The Ledes

Friday, December 19, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "Lowell Steward, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew more than 100 missions during World War II, died Wednesday, according to Ron Brewington, former national public relations officer for the Tuskegee Airmen. Steward was 95."

NBC News: "The Army has concluded its lengthy investigation into the disappearance of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in eastern Afghanistan and must now decide whether Bergdahl should face criminal charges. Bergdahl reportedly walked away from his base into the hands of the Taliban and was held hostage for five years. Based on the investigation, the Army must now decide whether Bergdahl should be charged with desertion or a lesser charge of being 'absent without leave,' AWOL."

New York Times: "The Pakistani military said on Friday that it had killed 62 militants in clashes near the border with Afghanistan, stepping up operations against insurgents after the Pakistani Taliban carried out an attack at a school that left 148 students and staff members dead."

New York Times: "Mandy Rice-Davies, a nightclub dancer and model who achieved notoriety in 1963 in one of Britain’s most spectacular Cold War sex scandals, died on Thursday after a short battle with cancer, her publicist said on Friday. She was 70."

Denver Post: "James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people inside an Aurora movie theater two years ago, is 'a human being gripped by a severe mental illness,' his parents write in a letter that pleads for him to be spared from execution.'" The letter is here.

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, December 18, 2014.

New York Times: "The stock market began the week burdened by geopolitical worries, but by the close of trading on Thursday it had bounced back to achieve one of its biggest upswings in recent years. Soothing words from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, saying that it would be 'patient' on raising interest rates, drove the surge, analysts said. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index jumped 2.4 percent on Thursday, to 2,061.23 — its biggest one-day gain since January 2013. That came on the back of a 2 percent rise on Wednesday."

CNN: "U.S. airstrikes have killed two top-level and one mid-level ISIS leader, a senior U.S. military official tells CNN. Haji Mutazz was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's deputy in Iraq; Abd al Basit was his military emir in Iraq; and Radwan Talib was his Mosul emir. Their deaths resulted from multiple strikes going back to mid-November -- it has taken until now to determine conclusively they were killed."

AP: "Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, with the benchmark 30-year loan rate reaching a new low for the year. The rates' historically low levels could be a boon to potential homebuyers. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage dropped to 3.80 percent this week from 3.93 percent last week. It is now at its lowest level since May 2013."

New York Times: "A federal judge on Thursday refused to release Don E. Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, from prison as he continues to appeal a prosecution that Republicans say exposed pervasive corruption in state government but Democrats regard as a case pursued for political retribution."

Boston Globe: "Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stood in federal court in Boston this morning for a brief pretrial hearing, which was punctuated by an interruption in Russian and English from a woman in the gallery. Several journalists reported she exclaimed 'stop killing innocent people' in English as she was escorted out for yelling in Russian. The woman identified herself to reporters as a relative of Ibrahim Todashev: a friend of Dzhokhar’s brother who was killed by an FBI agent during an incident that arose from the investigation of a Waltham triple homicide."

AFP: "Two owners and 12 former employees of a US pharmacy were arrested Wednesday in connection with a 2012 outbreak of meningitis that killed 64 people across the country, prosecutors said. Barry Cadden and Gregory Conigliaro owned the New England Compounding Center (NECC), which lost its license in 2012 after inspectors found it guilty of multiple sanitary violations. the pharmacy, located in the city of Framingham, Massachusetts in the US northeast, voluntarily shut down and recalled all products following the unprecedented outbreak of fungal meningitis."

Public Service Announcement

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 19

1:30 pm ET: President Obama holds a press briefing

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

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

A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos. ...

... Winger John Hinderaker of Powerline has never seen Colbert's show, but he's pretty sure it was an hour-long ad for the Democratic party. "I am not in favor of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but if federal law is going to bar a businessman from contributing enough to buy more than a minimal amount of television time on behalf of his party or his candidates, why shouldn’t Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central be prohibited from airing millions of dollars worth of pro-Democratic Party propaganda?" CW: Evidently, Hinderaker has not heard of Fox "News."

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

Washington Post: "Scientists are 99.999 percent sure, in their most conservative estimate, that remains found in 2012 really do belong to King Richard III. These results, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, put a 529-year-old cold case to rest -- all thanks to some intense genetic detective work." CW: Let's hope one of the expert detectives wasn't Shaun Parcells. You may weigh in, Dr. Schwalb. ...

Welcome to Gramercy Park! -- "one of the most forbidden places in Manhattan." New York Times: Woody Allen couldn't get in to film, Robert De Niro couldn't get in, but Shawn Christopher, who was honeymooning in Manhattan, borrowed a key and "took three 360-degree panoramas using Photo Sphere, a Google app, and then uploaded them to the company’s ubiquitous Maps site. He had gotten into the park using another of his favorite technologies, Airbnb, where the room he rented included not only fresh linens and Wi-Fi but also one of the 383 coveted keys to the park. Mr. Christopher was unaware at the time that guests had to be accompanied by key holders on their visits and that commercial photography was prohibited." So take an insider's view of the park.

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Sunday
Mar252012

The Commentariat -- March 26, 2012

Lincoln Caplan & Philip Boffey, in a New York Times op-ed, outline what arguments the Supreme Court will be hearing on the Affordable Care Act today, tomorrow and Wednesday. ...

... Ezra Klein has a long piece with everything you need to know about the oral arguments, plus background. ...

... Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Monday starts three days of hearings on the constitutionality of the 2010 health care overhaul law, an epic clash that could recast the very structure of American government. But it begins with a 90-minute argument on what a lawyer in the case has called 'the most boring jurisdictional stuff one can imagine.'" ...

... Supreme Court: "The audio recordings and transcripts of the March 26-28 morning sessions should be available no later than 2 p.m. The recording and transcript of the March 28 afternoon session should be available no later than 4 p.m. Anyone interested in the proceedings will be able to access the recordings and transcripts directly through links on the homepage of the Court's Website. The homepage currently provides links to the orders, briefs, and other information about the cases. The Court's Website address is www.supremecourt.gov." ...

... ** UPDATE: Here's the audio of today's arguments. Here's a pdf of the official transcript.

Paul Krugman fingers the right-wing funded ALEC -- the American Legislative Exchange Council -- as the author of the Florida (and other states) Stand Your Ground law. "... we seem to be turning into a country where crony capitalism doesn’t just waste taxpayer money but warps criminal justice, in which growing incarceration reflects not the need to protect law-abiding citizens but the profits corporations can reap from a larger prison population." Read the whole column. ...

... Brian Stelter of the New York Times: "... it took several weeks before the rest of the country found out" about the Trayvon Martin case. Stelter traces the evolution of the story & makes the case that newsrooms should diversify. ...

... Charles Blow interviews Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton. And adds, "To believe Zimmerman’s scenario, you have to believe that Trayvon, an unarmed boy, a boy so thin that people called him Slimm, a boy whose mother said that he had not had a fight since he was a preschooler, chose that night and that man to attack. You have to believe that Trayvon chose to attack a man who outweighed him by 100 pounds and who, according to the Sanford police, was wearing his gun in a holster. You have to believe that Trayvon chose to attack even though he was less than a hundred yards from the safety of the home where he was staying."

"To the Oklahoma Lawmakers" by Lauren Zuniga:

     ... Thanks to Haley S. for the link. Zuniga's poem -- and her performance of it -- provide a wonderful example of an artist taking on politicians to great effect.

Ben Protess & Azam Ahmed of the New York Times: Whether or not Jon Corzine actually knew he was covering a $175 million check with customer money -- something he testified before Congress that he did not know -- turns out to be a little complicated. CW: I would think that when you're playing with a couple hundred millions dollars, you'd sort of try to make sure you knew whose money it was. Evidently not. See also March 24 Commentariat.

Aziza Ahmed of the Guardian warns that Nicholas Kristof's well-meaning anti-sex-trafficking crusade may have unintended negative consequences.

Right Wing World

Elizabeth Kolbert of the New Yorker: "Like almost anything that the Republican candidates can manage to agree on, the Obama Administration gas-price-hike conspiracy theory is nearly a hundred-per-cent hokum."

John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "The Romney campaign consists of a weak candidate and a back-room staff that would have difficulty contesting a city-council election."

Romney Violates the Hatch Act. New York Times Editors: "Since 1940, it has been illegal for federal government contractors to contribute to federal political campaigns or parties. But in the new unregulated, unlimited jungle of campaign finance, Mitt Romney’s super PAC is allowing some contractors to violate that historic ban, taking yet another dangerous step toward a culture where government business is done on a pay-to-play basis." CW: if you can believe it, Romney is more corrupt that Karl Rove & Newt Gingrich! Here's the Los Angeles Times story on which the editorial is based.

ABC News: "Rick Santorum reportedly grew heated and accused a New York Times reporter of distorting a statement he made in an earlier speech, even yelling 'It's bulls-t' to him. Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times tweeted, 'I ask Santorum if Romney is 'worst Republican' to run. He says: 'Quit Distorting my words It's bulls-t.' He says he was talking health care'"

News Ledes

Orlando Sentinel: "With a single punch, Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who eventually shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old, then Trayvon climbed on top of George Zimmerman and slammed his head into the sidewalk, leaving him bloody and battered, law-enforcement authorities told the Orlando Sentinel. That is the account Zimmerman gave police, and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say. There have been no reports that a witness saw the initial punch Zimmerman told police about." ABC News story here.

Washington Post: "The Supreme Court began its constitutional review of the health-care overhaul law Monday with a fundamental question: Is the court barred from making such a decision at this time?" ...

... The New York Times' "The Lede" is providing live updates of the proceedings. ...

... New York Times Update: "The Supreme Court on Monday began three days of epic arguments over the 2010 health care overhaul law with a sort of appetizer — a 90-minute debate over whether the Court yet has the authority to hear the case."

New York Times: "President Obama took North Korea’s untested new leader, Kim Jong-un, to task on Monday, demanding that China curb his recent behavior and declaring that South Korea’s success will inevitably triumph over the failure and isolation of the North."

New York Times: "Ben S. Bernanke said Monday that recent declines in unemployment were likely to continue only if the economy grew more quickly."

Washington Post: "In their joint statement to reporters here, President Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev spoke carefully about continuing discussions on the sensitive issues of European missile defense. But in an unscripted moment picked up by camera crews, the American president was more blunt: Let me get reelected first, he said, then I'll have a better chance of making something happen."

New York Times: "Turkey and the United States plan to provide 'nonlethal' assistance, like communications equipment and medical supplies, directly to opposition groups inside Syria, and will urge other allies to do so as well, the White House deputy national security adviser said on Sunday, after President Obama met with the prime minister of Turkey at a nuclear security conference in Seoul, South Korea."

ABC News: "President Obama paused during his speech to local college students in South Korea Monday to directly address the North Korean leaders across the DMZ, urging new dictator Kim Jong-un and his regime to pursue a different path."

New York Times: "One of the 17 murder counts that the United States military filed against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is for the death of the unborn baby of one of his victims, a senior Afghan police official said on Monday." ...

     ... Story has been updated. Here's the new lede: "The mystery over the identity of the 17th Afghan victim in the murder case against Staff. Sgt. Robert Bales grew murkier on Monday, after an Afghan police official initially asserted that a pregnant woman’s fetus was also among the dead, only to retract the statement a few hours later."

Reader Comments (9)

"To the Oklahoma Lawmakers" by Lauren Zuniga
WOW!

March 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Mayday!, Mayday! Today, for the first time when I went to google NYTimes editorials I found that theTimes has successfully invaded google and I got the paywall and was stymied. What do I do now? An eighty three years old poor soul is lost, any information on how to get through the fence will be appreciated. Paying is impossible.

March 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

@ Everybody. I e-mailed Carlyle with a list of helpful suggestions of, um, things I read about his inquiry. I'd prefer if we didn't publicize these kinds of bright ideas here, but if he's still having trouble after he considers my suggestions, I'll put out an SOS.

March 26, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

P.D. Pepe: Cheney will not be spending his time in the great beyond shooting imaginary fowl. Cheney will be groveling in front of Gunga Din who is "squatting by the coals giving drinks to poor damned souls."

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Re Krugman on ALEC:

Someone (John Nichols?) made the fine point that the "Stand your Ground" laws are not so much an effort to "corporatize" security--though Krugman's overall point about diverting tax dollars into corporate hands is spot on-- as they are to insulate gun and ammunition manufacturers from any liability for the products they produce and sell. This from the hypocrites who preach responsibility, of course.

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Forrest Morris: So far I have been getting there by using bing.com and google's chrome. This may be temporary as they may each have a twenty times limit.
I think the cookie attack will be best when my son shows me how to do it.
You can set up a whole bunch of search engines on your favorites list and get ten pops each if the NYTimes has invaded them all ..

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

@ Everybody. I've removed a couple of comments re: the topic of an earlier discussion & have written privately to one of the commenters on the topic.

March 26, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Marie,

RE: Madmen

I've been a devoted fan since season 2. Just watched the first episode of season five. I haven't been so riveted to a series since The Sopranos. Thank you Mr. Weiner. This can only end badly. BTW I'm just as riveted to Walking Dead..but I digress.

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Oh I almost forgot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyy8roNU060&feature=player_embedded

Awesome

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS
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