The Ledes

Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

Guardian: "At least 19 Palestinians were killed and about 90 injured early on Wednesday when a UN school sheltering people was hit by shells during a second night of relentless bombardment that followed an Israeli warning of a protracted military campaign. Gaza health officials said at least 43 people died in intense air strikes and tank shelling of Jabaliya, a neighbourhood of Gaza City. The death toll included the people at the school who had fled their own homes." ...

     ... AP Update: "Israel unleashed its heaviest air and artillery assault of the Gaza war on Tuesday, destroying key symbols of Hamas control, shutting down the territory's only power plant and leaving at least 128 Palestinians dead on the bloodiest day of the 22-day conflict. Despite devastating blows that left the packed territory's 1.7 million people cut off from power and water and sent the overall death toll soaring past 1,200, Hamas' shadowy military leader remained defiant as he insisted that the Islamic militants would not cease fire until its demands are met."

Los Angeles Times: "Pacific Gas & Electric was charged Tuesday with lying to regulators during the immediate aftermath of the deadly 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people and ravaged a San Bruno, Calif., neighborhood. The new indictment includes obstruction charges related to what the company said about its records immediately after the incident, according to a release from the Northern District of California U.S. attorney's office. The filing comes three months after an April indictment claimed that PG&E violated federal pipeline safety laws."

Los Angeles Times: "A top Los Angeles utility official faced tough questions Tuesday night about the response to a massive pipe break that flooded UCLA and surrounding areas with millions of gallons of water and threatened the near-term use of Pauley Pavilion. The rupture of the 90-year-old main sent a geyser shooting 30 feet in the air and deluged Sunset Boulevard and UCLA with 8 million to 10 million gallons of water before it was shut off more than three hours after the pipe burst, city officials said."

Reuters: "Militant fighters overran a Libyan special forces base in the eastern city of Benghazi on Tuesday after a battle involving rockets and warplanes that killed at least 30 people. A special forces officer said they had to abandon their main camp in the southeast of Benghazi after coming under sustained attack from a coalition of Islamist fighters and former rebel militias in the city."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Jesse Ventura won his defamation case against the estate of author Chris Kyle, a former U.S. Navy SEAL who said he punched out the former Minnesota governor for criticizing the SEALs’ role in the Iraq war. The jury awarded a total of $1.845 million: $500,000 in defamation damages and $1.345 million for 'unjust enrichment' — or to be specific, $1,345,477.25. Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict, as instructed. Instead, with the consent of both sides, they voted 8 to 2 in Ventura’s favor."

AP: "A senior PLO official has called for a 24-hour humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza war, saying he is also speaking in the name of Hamas."

Guardian: "Gaza endured a night of relentless bombardment that brought some of the heaviest pounding since the start of the conflict three weeks ago, in the hours after the Israeli political and military leadership warned of a protracted offensive. Palestinian officials say more than 110 people have been killed in Gaza in the past 24 hours."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, May 29:"The ongoing measles outbreak in the United States has reached a record for any year since the disease was  eliminated in this country 14 years ago, with 288 cases of the potentially deadly infection reported in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday."

White House Live Video
July 29

10:10 am ET: White House Agricultural Champions of Change meet

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

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

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

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."

 

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.

 

CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:

 

Airborne Dinosaur. USA Today: Paleontologists have discovered in China a new species of dinosaur that "had long feathers not just on its wings but also on its hind legs, making it one of only a handful of 'four-winged' dinosaurs. It also had big, sharp teeth and sharp claws, indicating it was carnivorous.... Scientists were surprised to find something so large that could take to the skies so early in the history of flying creatures." ...

     ... CW: Charles Pierce's take: "The Christianists have been wrong all these years. It's not Intelligent Design. It's Abstract Design. God The Dada."

Houston Chronicle: "The Palm Beach mansion known as President JFK's Winter White House has hit the market for a staggering $38.5 million. That price is even more gasp-worthy considering the same property sold for $4.9 million in 1995 and a mere $120,000 in 1933." More photos, including interior shots, at the linked page.

Heller McAlpin reviews Marja Mills' book The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir of the writer's friendship with Harper Lee & her sister Alice Finch Lee, for the Washington Post.

According to this Daily Beast headline, the "World Awaits LeBron James' Decision." CW: Even though I so often do the sports report, it turns out I am not of this world.

Smart Girls Don't Swear. Vanity Fair "cleaned up, pored over, and painstakingly transcribed" some of the Nixon tapes, "many of which were muffled and, at times, indecipherable." The post excerpts a few: Nixon on gays, Jews, swearing.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton's "memoir, 'Hard Choices,' has just been toppled from its spot on the best-seller list by a sensational Clinton account by her longtime antagonist Edward Klein. It is a powerful statement about today’s publishing realities that Mr. Klein’s book, a 320-page unauthorized and barely sourced account full of implausible passages, including one about a physical altercation between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, has landed atop the New York Times best-seller list, knocking 'Hard Choices' to No. 2." ...

... If by chance you believe the major media are the exclusive haunts of "elite leftists," here's evidence it ain't so. Klein, the Times story notes, is "a former editor at Newsweek  and The New York Times Magazine."

Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast interviews Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times. Abramson still doesn't know what "management skills" means. Kinda makes you think maybe she doesn't have any.

Tim Egan: American children are too sheltered. The world isn't as scary as we think it is.

... Thanks to Bonita for the link. CW: I except you actually could purchase the materials at Hobby Lobby you'd need to make an IUD. However, Dr. Weader strongly advises against this do-it-yourself project.

New York Times: "The New Yorker is overhauling its website, making all articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers."

The New York Times Magazine publishes excerpts from a few of Warren Harding's love letters to Carrie Phillips. Also, he was a worse poet than he was a president. And Phillips was unfaithful to Harding; then she blackmailed him. Maybe it was because she was so turned off by all those letters where he personified his penis as "Jerry."

Guardian: A Princeton archaeologist has found what may be the world's oldest extant erotic graffiti on the Greek island of Astypalaia in the Aegean sea. Also, it is so gay.

Wherever in the U.S. you may live, if you missed your local news last night, we have it here. In fact, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, here's what will be on your local news tonight. Thanks to Bonita for the link:

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Saturday
May052012

The Commentariat -- May 5, 2012

According to the Obama-Biden campaign site, you can watch the first campaign rally, in Columbus, Ohio, here, beginning at 12:45 pm ET.

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here. Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP: "Placing a final punctuation mark on a week devoted to foreign policy, President Barack Obama on Saturday declared that his goal of defeating al-Qaida was within reach and said it was now time to turn the country's attention to more domestic concerns like strengthening the middle class."

Brad Plumer of the Washington Post: "The percentage of Americans in the labor force has been declining for more than a decade.... And while part of the story is clearly that the labor force is shrinking because the bad economy is driving workers out, another significant factor is that baby boomers are beginning to retire early -- a trend that has worrying implications for future growth. ...

... The New York Review of Books has an excerpt/adaptation of Paul Krugman's book End This Depression Now!

Dana Milbank: "A cornerstone of [Tea Partier] Richard Mourdock's effort to oust [Sen. Richard] Lugar [R-Ind.] is the six-term senator’s bad habit of bipartisanship — never mind that Lugar's bipartisanship was in the service of protecting millions of Americans from nuclear, chemical and biological terrorism.... Hoosier Republicans should reject Mourdock ... because they still believe that national security trumps partisanship."

Andy Rosenthal of the New York Times: 'After an unconscionably long delay of nearly a decade, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other men accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks will be arraigned Saturday in a military commission at Guantanamo Bay. Observers, including journalists, will be able to watch the hearing through glass. But the government has insisted on a 40-second audio delay, meaning censors can just switch the sound off if something happens that they don't want the public to hear -- like for example if Mr. Mohammed mentions that he was water-boarded 183 times in one month."

A rally for the candidate of the center-right New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras, who some analysts say is likely to head a coalition government as prime minister. Getty image.Rachel Donadio & Niki Kitsantonis of the New York Times: As Greece "heads to elections on Sunday in which no single party is expected to secure enough votes to form a stable government, they may have to try governing with political chaos. Along with elections in France, and with a rising tide of anti-austerity sentiment across Europe, Greece's vote is expected to have a clear impact on the future of the euro."

Presidential Race

Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times reports on President Obama's close involvement in campaign strategy.

Gail Collins considers Barack Obama's New York years. ...

David Maraniss on why Barack Obama is comfortable being Commander in Chief: "Obama is the first president to whom Vietnam is ancient history.... Obama feels more affinity toward his grandfather's generation (Stan Dunham fought in Europe during World War II) than to his mother’s, or he at least finds it more culturally appealing."

Ben Armbruster of Think Progress: "Yesterday Mitt Romney attacked President Obama over the administration's handling of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. Citing 'very troubling developments,' Romney said yesterday was 'a dark day for freedom and it's a day of shame for the Obama administration.' Last night on Fox News, Bill Kristol advised Romney to stand down on the Chen case, calling his attacks on Obama 'foolish.'" Kristol said, "There is no need to butt into a fast moving story when the secretary of state is in Beijing with delicate negotiations and say it's a day of shame for the Obama administration." Today Mr. Romney's campaign has released a statement criticizing President Obama for playing golf when the nation is at war, for his partisan decision to invite only Republicans to his foursome, for scoring too high & for looking lousy in golf shirts; the President is expected to tee up at 11:00 am ET. (CW: Could be I made up that last sentence. But seriously, Romney's buttinsky remarks on the Chen negotiations isn't just foolish -- it shows how shockingly little Romney understands about international relations & how willing he is to undermine his own country for possible political gain.)

New York Times Editors: "On Friday, Mitt Romney blamed President Obama for the April jobs figures, saying that in a normal recovery 'we should be seeing numbers in the 500,000 jobs created per month.' The truth is that the economy has not seen job growth like that in nearly 30 years. More to the point, the policies Mr. Romney espouses -- notably deregulation and tax cuts for the rich -- were the favored policies under President George W. Bush, years when job growth and wage gains were, at best, anemic." ...

... Oh, but you know that's not the only lie The Great Prevaricator came up with this week. Steve Benen lists 18 lies of the week.

Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: Ric Grenell, the disgruntled Employee of the for a Week, has put Romney in an awkward spot: Romney "is now forced to insist that he didn't fire an aide for his sexuality, an assertion that could jeopardize his already shaky relationship with the religious right." ...

... Tim Murphy of Mother Jones: "The [Grenell] episode is reminiscent of a controversy that occurred when Romney was governor of Massachusetts: The 2004 dismissal of Ardith Wieworka, longtime head of the state's Office of Child Care Services, who alleged that she had been terminated because of her decision to marry her partner."

Your Puzzling News of the Day. Emily Friedman of ABC News: "Tagg Romney, the eldest son of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, announced via Twitter that he and his wife Jen have new twin boys, delivered by a surrogate today. 'Happy 2 announce birth of twin boys David Mitt and William Ryder. Big thanks to our surrogate. Life is a miracle,' Tagg tweeting, linking to a photo of himself and one of his new sons. This the second time that Tagg, 42, and his wife, Jen, 39, have used a surrogate. The same surrogate was used for the twins carried their youngest son Jonathan, who was born in August of 2010. Their other three children were not born via surrogacy." CW: I know this is none of our business & has nothing to do with the presidential race, but I personally think it's weird to use a surrogate when a couple already has three children, let alone four. I'm open to second opinions. ...

... Oh, wait. Maybe Tagg & Mrs. Tagg want to have more kids to give them an advantage at this year's family baby toss:

 

... Apparently the Mittster plays this game all the time. I guess Ann Romney was right: he really is a wild and crazy guy:

... This kid is so not into the game. Must be one of the 99 Percent. You're doomed, child:

How Cool Is This? Ted Nugent loses it again. Remember, Willard's crew was thrilled when Nugent endorsed him:

     ... According to the Hollywood Gossip site, here's the bleeped language Nugent used, only partially bleeped here: "'I'm an extremely loving and passionate man, and people who investigate me honestly, without the baggage of political correctness, ascertain the conclusion that I'm a damned nice guy ... and if you can find a screening process more powerful than that, I'll suck your d-ck.' The musician then turned to a female producer and added: 'Or I'll f-ck you, how's that sound?'" ...

     ... Justin Sink of The Hill: "Mitt Romney's campaign is denying it expressed support for Ted Nugent after he made controversial comments last month that led to him being interviewed by Secret Service agents. Nugent on Friday gave his first television interview since the investigation, and the aging rocker said that Romney's team "expressed support" for him after his remarks.

AND, finally Joel Pollak of Breitbart, who must be a genius, has discovered proof positive, hiding in plain sight, that Barack Obama is a Communist sympathizer. Thank you, Joel, for this insightful piece of investigative journalism. You are a great advertisement for a free press.

Right Wing World

Heartland billboard in Chicago.

Leo Hickman of the Guardian: "The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based rightwing thinktank notorious for promoting climate skepticism, has launched quite possibly one of the most ill-judged poster campaigns in the history of ill-judged poster campaigns." Heartland itself boasts, "Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute point out that some of the world's most notorious criminals say they 'still believe in global warming' -- and ask viewers if they do, too…The billboard series features Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber; Charles Manson, a mass murderer; and Fidel Castro, a tyrant. Other global warming alarmists who may appear on future billboards include Osama bin Laden.... Of course, not all global warming alarmists are murderers or tyrants." ...

... CW: Stalin was a meat-eater. Therefore, all meat-eaters are mass murderers. Hitler was a vegetarian. Therefore all vegetarians are mass murderers. Ergo, everybody is a mass murderer. That’s the logic to the Heartland ad ad campaign despite the disclaimer they throw into their press release. ...

... Brian Vastig of the Washington Post: "The billboard went live Thursday afternoon. But by 4 p.m. Eastern time, an outcry from allies and opponents alike led the Heartland Institute’s president, Joe Bast, to say he would switch off the sign within the hour."

News Ledes

New York Times: "President Obama sought to rekindle the passion of his 2008 victory with a huge rally on Saturday that signaled a new, politically aggressive phase in the debate over the country's direction and the official start of his personal confrontation with Mitt Romney." Washington Post story here.

New York Times: "The arraignment of [Khalid Shaikh] Mohammed and four other accused conspirators in the Sept. 11 attacks got off to a slow and rocky start on Saturday. Defendants ignored the judge and stood at random intervals to pray, as defense lawyers repeatedly tried to change the subject to restrictions on their ability to communicate with their clients."

Reuters: "China said on Friday that blind dissident Chen Guangcheng could apply to study abroad, a move praised by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and suggesting an end may be near to a diplomatic standoff between Beijing and Washington."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia said Friday that he had permanently removed five priests from active ministry for sexual abuse or misconduct with minors, and reinstated three others after an investigation could not substantiate similar claims against them. The decisions, which followed a 14-month review, marked one of the largest ousters of active priests in the archdiocese's history. It also validated a February 2011 grand jury report that accused local church leaders of ignoring evidence of clergy sex abuse and stirred new outrage among area Catholics.

AFP: "Boris Johnson was re-elected mayor of Olympic host city London late Friday to the relief Prime Minister David Cameron, after his Conservative Party took a beating in mid-term local elections."

Guardian: "David Cameron has apologised to hundreds of Conservative councillors who lost their seats in the local elections 'against a difficult national backdrop'. Earlier, the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, described his sadness at the party's results in elections which saw both the coalition parties suffer widespread losses."

Guardian: "The bodies of 23 people have been found hanging from a bridge or decapitated and dumped near city hall in the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo, where drug cartels are fighting a bloody and escalating turf war. It follows the discovery in Veracruz of four journalists' bodies in a canal."

Reader Comments (7)

For Akilleus and his "slippery slopes":

I remembered what Denny Crane [a character in the sitcom "Boston Legal" said once about something that baffled him:

Denny: I just think it’s one heck of a slippery slerp!

Allen: That’s slope, Denny.

Denny: Well, in this case that slope is mighty slerpy.

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Marie - Regarding your comment that Romney's remarks about the fast moving Chinese dissident story (Chen) showed an astonishing lack of understanding of diplomacy and wilingness to undermine U.S. foreign policy for political gain. When I heard Romney's comments I was shocked. What responsible candidate from a major party would comment about a delicate and tense situation like this, especially when he says point blank that he doesn't have all the facts? Actually he didn't have any of the facts except what had been reported which was certainly incomplete. Romney only looks like a credible candidate when compared to people like Santorum or Perry.
Romney has zero foreign policy experience but even at that, one would think his advisors who are supposedly experts, would bring him up to speed on certain basic facts and protocols. Romney is looking more and more ill suited to the presidency every day.

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Heartland Institute is proof that not all think tanks can think. Wait! Karl Marx could think, does that mean that.....?

Marie, it is not weird to use a surrogate to have lots of children. First, all women are required to have as many children as possible. I am sure the world can handle another 10 or 20 billion. Second I am sure that since there is no mention of surrogate moms in Romney's magic book, that means that his god is OK with it. Only things that were with us 2000 years ago are no goes. You know, like contraception, abortion.

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

So Tagg and Mrs. Tagg hired surrogates that brought three children into the economy. Maybe we have finally seen a glimmer of Romney's strategy to create jobs. Bearing babies is what a 99 per center without access to education, jobs training or health care can do to make some dough! At least if she's a female.....

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Whenever Charlie Pierce writes, "We're screwed," I find myself nodding in agreement. I wondered during the primaries how Romney could garner so many votes when so few admitted to liking him. It's becoming more clear: While Santorum wants to return America to its glory days under Cesare Borgia, and Gingrich wants to return America to 1995 when everyone thought he was pretty nifty, Romney is the apotheosis of the composite modern Republican: willing to speak the truth only when doing so is helpful to his cause, a worshiper of money but willing to pretend to share YOUR belief system as well, and spectacularly numb to the difficulties experienced by his fellow citizens. He is the antonym of compassionate, and as such he represents those who think that "lucky duckies" are actually lucky. Ever since Reagan it has been a "Conservative" (I really don't think that they deserve that label, do you?) mantra that government is the problem. Romney, who every day reinforces the notion that in America any fool with a trust fund can become President, might be the man Reagan had in mind.

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

The whole Romney-rama-lama-ding-dong, whirling like a hypnotic swirl of greenbacks, privilege, arrogance, disconnection, and just plain weirdness spins around several hubs, one of which appears to be son number one, Tagg, nee Taggart who is incensed that anyone would consider him any different than any other kid from a family of five whose parents both had to work and who had to put himself through college and was lucky enough to eke out a living until hitting it rich through hard work and smarts. He's just the same. Sure he is.

The fact that his dad is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, has been running for president since God was in short pants, and has a rolodex any CEO would kill for has nothing to do with it. Now he's tweeting messages about his sons born to a surrogate. I can't really say anything about their use of a surrogate if there is a medical problem, but it just adds to the overall weirdness of the Romney clan and their essential cluelessness.

Will we see these twins trotted out the way Palin held her (daughter's?) baby in front of her at rallies like a magic talisman during the campaign, used as just another prop to allow Romney to stave off criticism that he's not just a regular guy? Here again, their calculation does not compute.

Why?

Most regular people could not afford a surrogate. That's a luxury only for the well off or those able to mortgage a pretty nice home and dip into significant life savings. If they think this makes them look 'regular' they've made yet another miscue.

I'm reminded of the Scott Fitzgerald quote about the rich being different from you and me. No kidding. And he was only talking about the Murphys. The Romneys make Gerald and Sara Murphy, for all their extravagance and loaded bohemian life choices, look like Dagwood and Blondie.

I can picture that scene in Reversal of Fortune where Ron Silver, playing Alan Dershowitz, says to Claus Von Bulow "You're a pretty strange guy" to which the Von Bulow replies "You have no idea."

We have no freakin' idea just how strange the Romneys are. And the funny thing is neither do they.

Note to PD. Denny Crane, in addition to his role as conservative manque on Boston Legal, was also an inveterate horndog. But as odd and egocentric as Denny was, wouldn't you take him any day of the week over Paul Ryan?

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

@all the surrogate commenters (that is, lest I be misunderstood, those who commented on surrogates): More children=more workers=more competing for the same job=lower wages. Therefore, excessive breeding by whatever method is both patriotic and very Republican. Why do you think they're agin' abortion and birth control? It's all part of the GRD, the Grand Republican Plan. Tagg and his wife are just offering themselves as a selfless example for the peons.

May 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes
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