The Ledes

Sunday, August 30, 2015.

New York Times: "Iran’s judiciary sentenced two people to 10 years in prison on Sunday for spying for the United States and Israel, but their names were not released, local media reported. It was not clear if the Iranian-American reporter Jason Rezaian, who faces similar charges, was one of them."

New York Times: "Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and acclaimed author who explored some of the brain’s strangest pathways in best-selling case histories like 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,' using his patients’ disorders as starting points for eloquent meditations on consciousness and the human condition, died Sunday at his home in New York City. He was 82." ...

... Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times: "Dr. Sacks ... was a polymath and an ardent humanist, and whether he was writing about his patients, or his love of chemistry or the power of music, he leapfrogged among disciplines, shedding light on the strange and wonderful interconnectedness of life — the connections between science and art, physiology and psychology, the beauty and economy of the natural world and the magic of the human imagination."

AP: "Los Angeles and the U.S. Olympic Committee have struck a deal that will make the city America's 2024 Olympic bidder pending approval by the city council next week. If the council approves the deal at a meeting Tuesday, the USOC will announce Los Angeles as its candidate, a person familiar with the process told The Associated Press."

AP: "Turkish fighter jets have carried out their first air strikes as part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State in Syria. A Turkish foreign ministry statement said that late on Friday the jets began attacking Isis targets across the border in Syria that were deemed to be threats to Turkey."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week's address, the President spoke about his upcoming trip to Alaska, during which he will view the effects of climate change firsthand. Alaskans are already living with the impact of climate change, with glaciers melting faster, and temperatures projected to rise between six and twelve degrees by the end of the century":

The Ledes

Saturday, August 29, 2015.

Washington Post: "Thai authorities arrested a foreign man Saturday they said had been holed up in a suburban apartment with bomb-making equipment and stacks of passports, the first possible breakthrough in the deadly bombing at a Bangkok shrine nearly two weeks ago."

New York Times: "An Egyptian judge on Saturday handed down unexpectedly harsh verdicts in the trial of three journalists from the Al Jazeera English news channel, sentencing them to at least three years in prison on charges that human rights advocates have repeatedly dismissed as political in nature. The journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste, had said they were expecting to be exonerated or sentenced to time already served. Egyptian officials have strongly suggested they were eager to be rid of the case, which had become a source of international embarrassment for the government...."

Washington Post: "Tropical Storm Erika was losing its punch as it drenched Haiti and the Dominican Republic early Saturday, but it left devastation in its path, killing at least 20 people and leaving another 31 missing on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, authorities said."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times [Aug. 20]: "As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer — Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes."

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."

White House Live Video
August 28

12:00 noon ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Maureen Dowd: Trump has got the best of Jeb! & Hillary: "Trump’s 'gusto,' as he likes to call it, has thrown into sharper relief the grinding-it-out, impatient entitlement, the overthinking and overcorrecting of Jeb and Hillary. Both campaign like they are owed, not because of their great national achievements, but because of their byzantine family dynamics."

The Oliver Brief. We do note, however, that the so-called 'Insular Cases,' which established a less-than-complete application of the Constitution in some U.S. territories, has been the subject of extensive judicial, academic, and popular criticism. See, e.g., Juan Torruella, The Insular Cases: The Establishment of a Regime of Political Apartheid, 77 Rev. Jur. U.P.R. 1 (2008); Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories, Youtube (Mar. 8, 2015), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CesHr99ezWE. -- Footnote, Paeste v. Guam, Ninth Circuit Judge Marsha S. Berzon

Jordan Golson of Wired: "Boeing’s developed a laser cannon specifically designed to turn unmanned aircraft into flaming wreckage. The aerospace company’s new weapon system, which it publicly tested this week in a New Mexico industrial park, isn’t quite as cool as what you see in Star Wars — there’s no flying beams of light, no 'pew! pew!' sound effects. But it is nonetheless a working laser cannon, and it will take your drone down. People keep flying their drones where they shouldn’t.... Luckily, there haven’t been any really bad incidents — that is, no one has been killed by a civilian quadcopter or plane, yet."

"The cream cheese is too damn much." Scott Lemieux and I agree.

Sunday Morning Come-Down. Politico: "Al Sharpton is leaving MSNBC's weekday dayside lineup, and moving to Sunday mornings. Sharpton's last weekday 'PoliticsNation' will be Sept. 4. He moves to Sundays a month later on Oct. 4, according to a memo sent to MSNBC staff by the channel's president Phil Griffin Wednesday evening."

Washington Post: "Stephen Hawking believes he’s solved a huge mystery about black holes."

Washington Post: "The case for canonizing [Sister Blandina Segale,] the 19th century Italian-born nun, whose run-in with Old West outlaw Billy the Kid is the stuff of legend, was presented at a ceremonial 'first inquiry' in Albuquerque on Tuesday. If approved, her name will be sent to the Vatican, where it will head down the long (and somewhat secretive) path toward sainthood."

New York Times: Can't sidewalk scaffolding be attractive? Yes, it can.

Terror in Toledo! ABC News: "A man caught on video the moment a public art installation in Toledo, Ohio -- a giant, 250-pound red ball -- decided to run away and start rolling down streets lined with parked cars. Part of a Toledo Museum of Art exhibit, the RedBall Project had been wedged between Roulet Jewelers and Ice Restaurant in downtown Toledo when a thunderstorm and strong winds this past Wednesday evening knocked the ball loose and caused it to start rolling away, according to Kelly Garrow, the museum's director of communications."

... AP: "America’s two foremost Democratic families, the Obamas and the Clintons, mingled on Saturday[,August 15,] as politics mixed with summer repose on swanky Martha’s Vineyard."

Washington Post: "Offering such perks as 'free' bags and 'free' airline tickets, [some credit] cards are big on promises, but they often fall short on the delivery. And although these financial instruments are legal, experts say they are not always worthwhile."

Kori Schulman of the White House: "Today (August 14), the White House joined Spotify — and our inaugural playlist was hand-picked by none other than President Obama. When asked to pick a few of his favorite songs for the summer, the President got serious. He grabbed a pen and paper and drafted up not one, but two separate summer playlists: One for the daytime, and one for the evening." ...

... CW: If you're subscribed to Spotify, you can play the President's list from the linked story (at "Today".)

Washington Post: "Google, one of the best-known brands on the planet, on Monday[, August 10,] radically restructured itself under the corporate name Alphabet, an almost unprecedented shift that reflects the company’s far-reaching ambitions and the vast Web it helped evolve. The move represents Google’s biggest push yet to ... turn the company into a multifaceted General Electric for the digital age."

Bureaucracies Move in Mysterious Ways. New York Post: "The city [of New York] moved to fire an employee for missing about 18 months of work, even though he had the best excuse of all time — he was dead. Bureaucrats at the Human Resources Administration filed charges against Medicaid-eligibility specialist Geoffrey Toliver accusing him of going AWOL — even though his death by cancer was reported in an online obituary.... 'It is my understanding that . . . his employer was fully aware that he was not able to come back to work,' Toliver’s brother Anthony told The Post. 'It is my understanding that my brother’s family spoke directly to his supervisor during his long hospitalization and informed them of his death.'” ...

... CW: Doesn't surprise me at all. When I lived in Manhattan, my mother sent me a gift which came directly from the catalog company from which she had bought it. My father had died a few years earlier, but my mother was still getting these catalogs in his name. So my father's name, not hers, appeared on the package as the giftor. He had never lived in New York City. He was not the addressee on the package. The package didn't come from New York City. And my father was dead. But never mind all that. A few months after I received the gift, I got a letter at my New York home addressed to my father. It was a notification from the city ordering my father to show up for jury duty. Or else.

 

Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "For years and years, plenty of websites (Mediaite included) have written about the many times Jon Stewart has 'destroyed,' 'annihilated,' or 'eviscerated' anything from terrorism to race relations to Fox News. Well..., on his penultimate night, Stewart discovered that he didn’t actually do any of that":

Exit Laughing. John Koblin of the New York Times: "Since [Jon] Stewart started hosting 'The Daily Show' 16 years ago, the country’s trust in both the news media and the government has plummeted. Mr. Stewart’s brand of fake news thrived in that vacuum, and turned him into one of the nation’s most bracing cultural, political and media critics. With his over-the-top presentation of the news — his arms swinging wildly, his eyes bulging with outrage, followed by a shake of the head and a knowing smile — Mr. Stewart attracted a generation of viewers ready to embrace an outlier whose exaggerations, in their view, carried more truth than conventional newscasts." ...

...Stewart hasn't done any interviews prior to ending his run on the "Daily Show," but he did sit down with "Daily Show" producers for an "exit interview" on Episode 20 of the "Daily Show Podcast without Jon Stewart." You can listen to it here.

Los Angeles Times: "Donald Sterling filed for divorce Wednesday[, August 5] in Los Angeles Superior Court, almost a year after a contentious legal fight with his wife, Shelly, led to the sale of the Clippers.... However, the court later rejected Wednesday’s filing because it was incomplete, according to a spokeswoman. The matter is expected to be re-filed."

New York Times: "Jason Fine, the editor of Men’s Journal, will take over as the managing editor of Rolling Stone as part of what the magazine’s publisher, Jann S. Wenner, described as a 'shake-up.'”

"Where Are My Pancakes?"

The Word Salad King. If Donald Trump's good friend & possible running mate Sarah Palin is the Word Salad Queen, it stands to reason that the Donald would be the king. Slate challenges you to diagram this "sentence." To help you out, Slate has transcribed the words in the order delivered. Not that the order delivered matters much:

Obama Slept Here

For a mere $22.5MM this Martha's Vinehard house on 10 acres can be yours. The Obamas stayed in the house for 8 days in 2013. The current owner bought the property, which has expansive views of the Atlantic & Chilmark Pond, in 2000 for about $3MM. So, hey, the price is negotiable. Slide show.

The Birth of Franklin. Washington Post: After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Glickman, a white California mother wrote to cartoonist Charles Schultz urging him to introduce a black character to his "Peanuts" cartoon strips. When Schultz demurred, saying he was afraid "it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends," Glickman got two of her "Negro friends" who backed the idea to write to Schultz. A short time later, Schultz introduced Franklin. Oh, yes, & strips showing Franklin in an integrated! classroom upset Southern editors, according to Glickman.

Contact the Constant Weader

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Friday
May252012

The Commentariat -- May 26, 2012

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Jessica Silver-Greenberg & Ben Protess of the New York Times: "Scores of federal regulators are stationed inside JPMorgan Chase's Manhattan headquarters, but none of them were [sic.] assigned to the powerful unit that recently disclosed a multibillion trading loss.... The lapses have raised questions about who, if anyone, was policing the chief investment office and whether regulators were sufficiently independent.... The bank pushback also suggests that JPMorgan had sway over its regulators, an influence that several said was enhanced by the bank's charismatic chief executive, Jamie Dimon.... Ssme former Fed officials are asking whether the investigation should be spearheaded by the New York Fed, where Mr. Dimon has a seat on the board. Some lawmakers and former regulators also have reservations about the comptroller's office, which is investigating the trade and was the primary regulator for JPMorgan's chief investment unit."

Larry Elliott & Decca Aitkenhead of the Guardian: "The International Monetary Fund has ratcheted up the pressure on crisis-hit Greece after its managing director, Christine Lagarde, said she has more sympathy for children deprived of decent schooling in sub-Saharan Africa than for many of those facing poverty in Athens. In an uncompromising interview with the Guardian, Lagarde insists it is payback time for Greece and makes it clear that the IMF has no intention of softening the term s of the country's austerity package." CW: very helpful.

Ezra Klein on "the reality behind Obama & Bush's 'spending binge.'" ...

... Welcome to the White House, You Incompetent Jerk. Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama will host former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, at the White House next week for the unveiling of their official portraits, bringing the two presidents together at a time when Mr. Obama has been castigating Mr. Bush's record on the campaign trail." CW: I might add it's also at a time when Obama's DOJ is still working overtime getting Bush & Co. off the hook for crimes against humanity (see yesterday's Commentariat), so Dubya should be damned grateful to Obama that he's not in Guantanamo.

The Guardian has an excerpt of David Maraniss's biography of Barack Obama, which covers some of the same period as the excerpt in the WashPo I linked a few weeks ago, but the Guardian's bit is more extensive.

Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "... an increasing number of GOP candidates for Congress are declining to sign the promise to oppose any tax increase, a small sign that could signal a big shift in Republican politics on taxes."

Dana Milbank: Before Republicans clone Ronald Reagan, "they ... may wish to consider some genetic flaws that party scientists should repair in the cloning process."

Presidential Race

New York Times Editors: "The Obama campaign ... is right to make an issue of Mr. Romney's tenure at Bain. Mr. Romney argues that his experience in the private sector makes him the best choice to revive the economy, and voters need to understand the precise nature of that experience.... At Bain Capital, Mr. Romney made businesses more efficient, but often at a high human cost.... His embrace of Republican budgets that would benefit the wealthy while hurting the poor and the middle class shows his priorities haven't changed." ...

... Steve Benen: "Romney's single most important claim as a candidate for the presidency is that he, during his private-sector career, was a 'job creator.' If this isn't true, his rationale for national office crumbles. And when a person making a bold claim can't keep his story straight, it's generally a strong hint that the claim is dubious." ...

... AND Benen reports on Willard's Whoppers of the Week. ...

... PLUS More Birtherisms from the Donald. Benen writes, Donald "Trump is an official surrogate and fundraiser for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. During the Republican primaries, Romney even had Trump record robocalls for his campaign, and next week, the two will appear together in Las Vegas. As Greg Sargent noted today, when Hilary Rosen noted Ann Romney may not be qualified to serve as her husband's economic advisor, it was national news for weeks, despite the fact that Rosen (a) was correct, (b) had no formal role whatsoever in President Obama's campaign; and (c) was immediately denounced by high-profile members of the Obama team. And yet, here's Trump, spewing obvious garbage, which won't diminish his role on Team Romney and won't stop the Republican candidate from fundraising with Trump. The playing field isn't even."

Gail Collins takes potshots at Willard's big education speech. CW: as far as I can tell, if your kid can't read & his teacher is lousy, it's Barack's fault.

Local News

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Gov. Scott Walker on Friday brought the sharp tone of the last year in Wisconsin politics to the first of two debates in the state's historic recall election." Here's the debate, which begins about 3 min. in:

War on Women -- Georgia Campaign. Kristina Torres of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday approved new restrictions on late-term abortions in Georgia.... Deal's signature makes Georgia the latest state to generally ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, cutting by about six weeks the time women in Georgia may have an elective abortion. Commonly referred to as a 'fetal pain' bill, House Bill 954 will tighten medical exemptions for terminating pregnancies and require any abortion performed after 20 weeks be done in a way to bring the fetus out alive. The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, makes no exception for rape or incest." ...

... ** Doctors (who dare not reveal their names because of threats against them) in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "House Bill 954 hinges its basis for a challenge to the U.S. Constitution on the notion that a growing baby inside the womb feels pain at 20 weeks.... All recent research from the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists refutes this rationale.... HB 954 still mandates that physicians provide care that may be medically inappropriate." Via the Maddow Blog.

Fort Myers, Florida, News-Press: "Florida is violating federal law with procedural barriers and depriving thousands of jobless workers from receiving unemployment compensation, two legal organizations say in a complaint to the U.S. Labor Department.... The groups contend a 2011 law passed by the Republican-led Florida Legislature made a variety of changes in the state's unemployment compensation system that unfairly prevent otherwise qualified workers from getting benefits.... The 2011 law was sought by business interests to help curtail skyrocketing unemployment insurance taxes paid by employers. Even before it went into effect Aug. 1, only 17 percent of the state's unemployed workers received benefits, the lowest rate in the country, the groups said."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Syrian opposition organizations accused government forces on Saturday of carrying out a massacre in a village near Homs, leaving some 100 people dead, many of them children."

Reuters: "Iran has significantly stepped up its output of low-enriched uranium and total production in the last five years would be enough for at least five nuclear weapons if refined much further, a U.S. security institute said."

Reuters: "The brother of blind activist Chen Guangcheng has gone missing, a lawyer said on Saturday, days after he fled his village in northeastern China to seek help for his son who has been detained in a case that has become a rallying point among rights activists."

Reader Comments (3)

Your column in New York Times eXaminer yesterday was superb. I get so annoyed listening to David Brooks on NPR conversations between him and EJ Dionne as EJ tries to rein in his misstatements and half-truths. It was lovely to read a thorough take-down.

@Trish Ramey. Thanks, but Krugman did most of the work. I really wanted to demonstrate how Krugman directly contradicts Brooks and how he does so in such a purposeful way. There can be little doubt that Krugman's column Friday was a direct response to Brooks' column of Tuesday.

Of course, as P. D. Pepe pointed out in her comment on NYTX, in real life, Brooks is never going to back down. I think he knows what he's doing, and he may genuinely believes that he is simply articulating a different POV, not that his facts are wrong. By throwing in the data from Krugman's blogpost, I think I also showed that Brooks is wrong on the facts. His erroneous position isn't just a matter of "opinion."

Marie

May 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

It appears that the Pope's butler has had enough of the immoral and unethical dealings of this pope, previously Cardinal RATzinger, a former member of the Hitler Youth. But he has been caught trying to expose the illegal methods employed by the Vatican. How horrible. Luckily for the butler, the pope's apparatchiks have guaranteed that he will be treated with “all the juridical guarantees foreseen by the criminal code of the State of Vatican City.”

Great.

So that means he'll be subjected to the Strappado, the rack, the Judas Chair, fingernail extraction, application of red hot pokers to sensitive areas of the body, thumb screws, the Iron Maiden, and lots more of the exciting methods of retribution developed by the Catholic Church in anticipation of those who might have the temerity to challenge its position as a moral force in the world.

Actually, it is a moral force in the world. A force for IMmorality.

I wish that butler all the best but you can bet that if RATzinger can't find any priests with the stomach to inflict the appropriate levels of suffering, he can call Dick Cheney and in a few hours, a coterie of CIA inquisitors will be on the scene, firebrands in hand.

May 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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