The Ledes

Monday, March 30, 2015.

Washington Post: "One person was killed and another was injured Monday morning when police with the National Security Agency opened fire on a vehicle whose driver refused commands to stop at a security gate, according to a statement from the agency. The vehicle slammed into a police cruiser after shots were fired."

New York Times: "Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister who was forced from office under a cloud of corruption, was convicted on Monday of fraud and breach of trust in a retrial of a case involving an American businessman, whose sensational testimony in a Jerusalem court in 2008 was instrumental in Mr. Olmert’s downfall. The American businessman, Morris Talansky, said at the time that he had provided Mr. Olmert with about $150,000 over 13 years, mostly in cash stuffed into envelopes, an assertion Mr. Olmert vehemently denied. Mr. Talansky, known as Moshe, had said that much of the money was earmarked for election campaigns but that some was for Mr. Olmert’s personal expenses."

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, March 29, 2015.

New York Times: "Rescue workers recovered two bodies on Sunday in the wreckage of the explosion and fire that happened last week in the East Village, the police said. One of two bodies was identified by family members as Nicholas Figueroa, 23. The second body was not yet identified.... Officials said the fire was most likely set off by a gas explosion. The explosion blew off the facade of the building, before spreading to four neighboring ones. Three of the buildings — 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue — were reduced to rubble."

AP: "Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen will continue until Shiite rebels there 'withdraw and surrender their weapons,' a summit of Arab leaders decided Sunday, as they also agreed in principle to forming a joint military force. The decision by the Arab League puts it on a path to potentially more aggressively challenge Shiite power Iran, which is backing the Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis."

Baltimore Sun: Protesters show up outside Bill Cosby's Baltimore performance, and one interrupts his show.

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
March 30

9:00 am ET: President's Management Advisory Board meeting

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

If you thought a meerkat was something like a mongoose ... Global News: "Meet Meerkat, the live streaming video service that allows users to host a live broadcast from their smartphones. If you haven’t heard of this new app don’t feel too bad – it’s only been around for about two weeks. But that hasn’t stopped it from garnering an estimated 300,000 active users, US$12 million in funding and even a few controversies."

In Case You Were Wondering... Megan Garber of the Atlantic examines multiple theories on why "men’s dress shirts have their buttons on the right, while women’s have them on the left (to the wearer)."

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "Inside the elaborate, surprisingly unglamorous world of presidential hotel stays." Or Why President Trump Would Resign Shortly after His Inauguration.

New York Times: "After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — 'Richard III, 1452-1485' — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times. With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers...." ...

... The Guardian has a full page of stories about Richard III.

Twenty percent more people trust Bill O'Reilly now than trusted O'Reilly before the press reported he was a serial liar:

East Wing Mystery. Washington Post: "There’s still no official comment on why [White House head florist Laura] Dowling is no longer at the White House, but according to a source with close ties to current residence staffers, she was escorted from the building on Friday Feb. 13." ...

     ... UPDATE. Thoroughly Modern Michelle. "Dowling ... left because her 'fussy style' was not in line with the first lady’s emerging modern and clean aesthetics, several sources said.... Recently the first lady has debuted a different aesthetic at the executive mansion. Last month, the White House revealed the newly refurbished and now decidedly modern Old Family dining room.... Mrs. Obama unveiled her 'thoroughly modernized' mark on the White House, featuring a custom-made 1950s-inspired rug and bold artwork, to surprised tourists on Feb. 10. Dowling is said to have been escorted from the White House three days later." ...

Reuters: "Whether it's the earnest Josiah Bartlet from 'The West Wing' or the manipulative Frank Underwood in 'House of Cards,' Americans prefer television presidents to their real-life POTUS, President Barack 'No Drama' Obama.'"

Washington Post: Scientists believe they've found the world's largest asteroid impact zone in Australia.

Washington Post: "King Richard III may have been buried quickly and without pomp the first time, but 530 years later, England is reveling in a final farewell to its long-lost monarch. On a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon on the battlefield where Richard III fell in 1485 — he was the last English king to die in battle — throngs of well-wishers, some dressed in medieval costume and blowing trumpets, gathered to honor England’s last Plantagenet king."

Out of the Parking Lot & into the Cathedral. Guardian: England is preparing to (re)inter a king today (Sunday, March 22). "... the coffin will be transferred to a horse-drawn hearse, to lead the way to a service of compline, with a sermon from a Roman Catholic archbishop, Vincent Nicholls. It will then lie in the cathedral, guarded night and day, until the reburial service on Thursday."

Politico: "The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it has granted Amazon Logistics, a subsidiary of the Internet retail giant, approval for a drone design that the company plans to use for research, development and training."

David Rackoff: "Things people say that irritate Republicans." Click thru. CW: I'll have to try to remember these. So I can say them. To Republicans. I hope I drive them all Rumpelstiltskin. Then I will ask the Flying Spaghetti Monster to forgive me for being so mean.

Prince Charles & the Duchess of Cornwall are in Washington, D.C., & environs.

President Obama hosts a St. Patrick's Day reception:

... CW: Somebody explain to me why apparently-intelligent people don't actually participate in events they attend but instead spend their time taking crappy cellphone videos, even when they know said events will be recorded by professionals & posted online. I get why a person would want to record some side-conversation with, say, the President, but the main event? It baffles me.

Patrick LaForge of the New York Times: "Welcome to a parallel universe. It is a world of tired news language where the verb 'stir' is bound to be followed by 'debate,' where those debates are always 'heated' or 'bitter.' In this world, anything newsworthy is automatically 'controversial,' and a 'hike' involves taxes, not a trail up a mountain. It is often a 'hardscrabble' place, sometimes 'densely wooded,' sometimes graced with 'manicured' lawns and 'leafy' streets. 'Landmark' agreements are 'hammered out' there, while adversaries are 'lambasted' and 'assailed.'” Meet journalese: a strained and artificial voice more common to news reports than to natural conversation." LaForge cites numerous examples of NYT reporters' use of these cliches.

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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