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.

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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