The Ledes

Thursday, December 18, 2014.

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."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, December 17, 2014.

New York Times: "Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty Wednesday as the government declared three days of official mourning and grappled with the aftermath of an attack on a school by the Pakistani Taliban that killed 145 people. The national flag was lowered to half-staff on all official buildings and prayer services were scheduled across the country." ...

... The Washington Post profiles "Mullah Radio," the leader of the Taliban attack on schoolchildren & teachers.

Public Service Announcement

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 18

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

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

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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.

CW: For those of you who don't like hassling with DVDs, I accidentally found a cheap alternative to Netflix. Although I will continue to subscribe to Netflix's streaming videos, Netflix doesn't stream most decent movies. Instead, you have to maintain a (second) monthly subscription, then order & return the DVDs. However, YouTube now allows you to stream movies (you can watch them -- more than once -- during a 48-hour period.) There's no monthly fee, & you can play the movies on your TV via various devices. I have a Google dongle on one TV & a Blu-Ray box on another. The YouTube streaming videos work on both (you have to download on the Chrome browser). Setting up an account was very easy. Since I watch few movies, this works perfectly for me. When Ben Bradlee died, I watched "All the President's Men" for the umpteenth time, & today I watched "Good Night & Good Luck." Big advantage: instant gratification! I'm not sure if YouTube is good for more recent movies.

The Rockefellers Are Leaving the Building. New York Times: "By this time next year, they will have vacated the 56th-floor aerie [in 30 Rock] they have occupied since 1933 and moved to somewhat less rarefied headquarters across 49th Street. One of the country’s great dynastic families is downsizing."

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Wednesday
Mar282012

The Commentariat -- March 29, 2012

Adrienne Rich asks "What Kind of Times Are These?" Rich died Tuesday.

** I've added quite a few NEW links to yesterday's post on the Supremes' hearing of oral arguments on the challenges to the Affordable Care Act.

Edwidge Danticat in a New York Times op-ed: "... With draconian immigration laws spreading across the country, immigration detention is one of the fastest-growing forms of incarceration in the United States. There are more than 30,000 men, women and children in immigration custody...." Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee] & members of a subcommittee he chairs is holding a hearing which it titled, for fun, "Holiday on ICE," "seem to think the United States is too nice to the immigrants it detains. We are being too generous in deciding to give them safe water, an hour a day of recreation, and off-site medical care if they are in danger of dying.... The flippant title of the hearing shows a blatant disregard for the more than 110 people who have died in immigration custody since 2003. One of them was my uncle Joseph, an 81-year-old throat cancer survivor...."

Gail Collins: "You would think that this would be a great time to address the question of handgun proliferation, but it has hardly come up in Washington at all. This is because most politicians are terrified of the National Rifle Association." ...

... Now I've Seen Everything. Alex Seitz-Wald of Think Progress: "Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) donned a hoodie and took to the House floor this morning to speak out against the murder of Travyon Martin, but was shouted down and removed from the floor by the Republican speaker pro tem for violating House rules prohibiting the wearing of hats."

... Here's a bit more on Rush -- "the one politician to ever have beaten Barack Obama in an election" -- from Nicholas McCarvel of the Daily Beast. ...

... ANd from Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor, who discusses the House rules. ...

... Channing Joseph of the New York Times: "A police surveillance video obtained by ABC News shows George Zimmerman ... as he arrived at the Sanford, Fla., police station on the night of the shooting. Mr. Zimmerman, 28, said he shot the 17-year-old high school student, Trayvon Martin, in self-defense after a violent altercation in which Trayvon punched him in the nose, knocked him over and slammed his head into the sidewalk. Mr. Zimmerman has not been arrested or charged. His lawyer, Craig Sonner, has said Mr. Zimmerman’s nose was broken in the altercation. In the video, which shows Mr. Zimmerman in police custody shortly after Trayvon was shot, Mr. Zimmerman’s face and head show no obvious signs of injuries or blood."

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Right Wing World

Michael Hirsh of the National Journal: the Obama campaign might be well-advised "to cast [Mitt] Romney as Barry 'Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice' Goldwater, whose trouncing by LBJ in 1964 had a lot to do with public fears that he was a warmonger.... Previously [Romney] has virtually threatened war with Iran and the perpetuation of war in Afghanistan. But Romney's remarks to CNN about Russia, calling Moscow 'without question our number one geopolitical foe' and saying that the Russians 'fight every cause for the world's worst actors,' seemed to mark a new level of indiscretion for the hyperventilating former Massachusetts governor."

Mitt Romney tells Wisconsin voters what he calls "a humorous story" about his father's closing a Michigan auto plant & moving operations to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Only Romney -- who "likes to be able to fire people" -- would see the "humor" in putting people out of work:

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The only things more out-of-touch than Mitt Romney's 'joke' about his dad closing a factory are his policies that would give massive tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires and allow insurance companies to discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions. He continues to be callous about the struggles that ordinary Americas face and his policies would make it harder-not easier-for anyone but the very wealthy to succeed. -- Lis Smith of the Obama campaign

... The Detroit News reports some background on the hilarious plant closing. ...

... David Firestone of the New York Times, in a post titled "The Lighter Side of Destroying Jobs," has more background on the Michigan plant closing. He adds, "Another candidate might have stayed away from a joke about closing auto plants. Considering that Mitt Romney’s private equity company forced thousands of layoffs at companies it purchased, and that he opposed a bailout of the auto industry that saved hundreds of thousands of jobs, it’s a subject he would be well-advised to avoid. But Mr. Romney doesn’t seem to have the internal warning signal granted to most politicians."

News Ledes

Yahoo! News: "The White House on Thursday accused Republicans criticizing President Barack Obama over his candid but caught-on-tape comments to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev — like presidential front-runner Mitt Romney and House Speaker John Boehner — of having an outdated 'Cold War' mindset and said Obama would happily fight for his policy through the election."

Washington Post: "Angry Senators on Thursday bowed to the will of the House with a 90-day extension of transportation funding two days before a deadline that could have shutdown highway and transit projects across the nation."

ABC News: "A 29-year-old-man was taken into police custody this morning at the Philadelphia airport after attempting to board a flight to San Francisco while carrying items that could have been assembled into an explosive device -- a vial with a fuse, a plastic bottle filled with explosive powder and three M-80 type fireworks."

AP: "President Barack Obama is renewing his call for Congress to end tax breaks to oil companies. In a Rose Garden speech Thursday, Obama will urge Congress to vote to end what the White House calls 'the billions in taxpayer dollars handed out to oil companies every year.'" ...

     ... Politico Update: "President Barack Obama repeated his plea Thursday for lawmakers to repeal billions in annual incentives for big oil companies ahead of a doomed Senate vote on the matter":

     ... Washington Post Update: "Senate Democrats followed by forcing a vote to end tax cuts for the five largest oil companies, which Republicans resoundingly defeated."

New York Times: "Top MF Global executives and their lawyers have been meeting with federal authorities investigating the collapse of MF Global and the firm’s misuse of customer money, according to testimony before a Congressional panel on Wednesday.... An important MF Global employee [Edith O'Brien] had declined to cooperate without first receiving a deal excusing her from criminal prosecution."

AP: "The annual Arab summit meeting opened in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Thursday with only 10 of the leaders of the 22-member Arab League in attendance and amid a growing rift between Arab countries over how far they should go to end the one-year conflict in Syria. As the summit opened, two explosions were heard in central Baghdad."

Here's the New York Times' obituary of musician Earl Scruggs.

Wall Street Journal: "The House overwhelmingly voted down a bipartisan budget proposal [which was based on the Simpson-Bowles Commission outline] Wednesday that would have directed lawmakers to reduce the federal deficit by more than $4 trillion over 10 years through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases." ...

... The Hill: "The House on Wednesday night unanimously rejected an alternative budget proposal [supposedly] based on President Obama's 2013 budget plan, dispatching it in a 0-414 rout. The vote came just hours after the White House cast the pending vote as a political 'gimmick,' an apparent attempt to downplay what many expected to be an ugly-looking vote for the White House." ...

The Hill: "The House on Thursday is poised to approve Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget measure, which would give Republicans a much-needed lift after months of intra-party squabbling." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "The House of Representatives on Thursday approved a $3.5 trillion budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on a 228 to 191 vote, largely along party lines."

New York Times: "Following a string of critical reports about its contracting practices in China, Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, visited Foxconn Technology’s manufacturing plant for the iPhone earlier this week, media reports said on Thursday." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "The Fair Labor Association said Thursday that more than half of the workers in Apple’s assembly plants exceed the company’s limit of 60 hours of work a week and that many face hazardous working conditions." ...

     ... Reuters Update: "In a landmark development for the way Western companies do business in China, Apple Inc said on Thursday it had agreed to work with partner Foxconn to tackle wage and working condition violations at the factories that produce its popular products."

Washington Post: "Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) endorsed Mitt Romney for president on Wednesday, becoming the latest big-name Republican to throw his support behind the likely Republican nominee."

Reuters: "Pope Benedict and Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, both octogenarians, joked about their age in a brief meeting on Wednesday and then Castro popped the question: so what do you do? The two world figures chatted for about 30 minutes at the Vatican embassy in Havana near the end of the pope's three-day visit to Cuba, where he called for greater freedom and a bigger role for the Catholic Church in the communist-led nation."

Reuters: "An angry Rupert Murdoch on Thursday declared war against 'enemies' who have accused his pay-TV operation of sabotaging its rivals, denouncing them as 'toffs and right wingers' stuck in the last century." In tweets!

Reader Comments (1)

In today's Washington Post obituary for Earl Scruggs, last paragraph, a quote from Scruggs -- who was always open to experimentation:

" If you don't let things develop, it's like keeping something in a bag and not letting it out to fly ... You never know until you try it out."

He was talking about music, but the thought goes to anything.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick
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