The Ledes

Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

Los Angeles Times: "Andrew Getty, an heir to the Getty oil fortune, was found dead at his Hollywood Hills home Tuesday. Los Angeles police are investigating.... Just two weeks ago, Getty had sought a restraining order against a woman, according to court records.... A woman who was present at the time of the death was escorted from the residence by police for questioning...."

Washington Post: "Iraqi forces claimed to have seized the city of Tikrit from Islamic State militants on Tuesday after U.S.-led airstrikes cleared the way for ground operations, an advance that would mark the government’s most significant victory over the extremists since their summer blitz. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced in a televised address that Tikrit had been liberated after security forces and 'popular mobilization' units, a grouping of pro-government fighters that includes Iranian-backed Shiite militias, made rapid inroads into the city. However, military officials said some areas of the city were yet to be entered...."

New York Times: "With anger swelling over corruption, inequality and a devastating Islamist insurgency in the nation’s north, Nigerians chose a former general who once ruled with an iron hand to be their next president, according to election results on Tuesday. The election was the most competitive presidential race ever in Nigeria, one of the largest democracies in the world. Now, if power is handed over peacefully, it will be a major shift for the nation — the first transfer of power between civilians of different parties in a country that has spent much of its post-colonial history roiled by military coups."

The Unfortunate Death of a Fool. Washington Post: "What had first appeared to be an attempt to breach security at the [NSA] ... now appears to be a wrong turn by two men who police believe had robbed their companion of his vehicle and perhaps didn’t stop because there were drugs inside. A spokeswoman for the Baltimore office of the FBI, Amy J. Thoreson, said early in the investigation that authorities 'do not believe [the incident] is related to terrorism.' A law enforcement official said: 'This was not a deliberate attempt to breach the security of NSA. This was not a planned attack.'”

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, March 30, 2015.

New York Times: "On Monday, the [U.S.] government charged that in the shadows of an undercover investigation of Silk Road, a notorious black-market site, two federal agents sought to enrich themselves by exploiting the very secrecy that made the site so difficult for law enforcement officials to penetrate. The agents, Carl Mark Force IV, who worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Shaun W. Bridges, who worked for the Secret Service, had resigned amid growing scrutiny, and on Monday they were charged with money laundering and wire fraud. Mr. Force was also charged with theft of government property and conflict of interest."

Guardian: "The personal details of world leaders at the last G20 summit were accidentally disclosed by the Australian immigration department, which did not consider it necessary to inform those world leaders of the privacy breach.... An employee of the agency inadvertently sent the passport numbers, visa details and other personal identifiers of all world leaders attending the summit to the organisers of the Asian Cup football tournament."

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

... ABC News: "Sources say the two inside [the vehicle] were men dressed as women. Preliminary information indicated the two men were partying at an area hotel with a third individual when they took that individual's car without permission. However, it's still unclear how or why they ended up at the NSA gate."

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

Public Service Announcement

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

White House Live Video
March 31

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Los Angeles Times: "On Tuesday afternoon, just about lunch time, a 'flying saucer' was undergoing a spin test in a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The saucer is technically a 15-foot wide, 7,000-pound aerodynamic test vehicle. It is designed to help engineers try out new technologies for landing spacecraft, and someday people, on Mars."

Guardian: "Comedy Central is standing by its new Daily Show host Trevor Noah, after the 31-year-old South African comedian set to replace Jon Stewart was criticized for a series of controversial jokes he tweeted before his appointment." ...

... Jessica Winter of Salon: "Not since John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate have the vetting capacities of a powerful political force been cast into such doubt." Besides being a misogynist pig & an anti-Semite, Noah isn't even funny."

Andrew Sullivan says he quit his blog because blogging is difficult, time-consuming & dehumanizing. CW a/k/a the Blog Nazi: No kidding.

David Graham of the Atlantic: "Trevor Noah's ascent on The Daily Show has been steep — hired on as senior international correspondent four months ago, he'll take over the anchor's desk from Jon Stewart after just three appearances on the show, Comedy Central announced Monday."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Sunday
Sep162012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 16, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on a Times' story about Romney playing a fun-loving human being on the teevee while Ryan attacked President Obama at the Value Voters Summit. Commenting on NYTX is open to all. ...

Quote of the Day: We will never have the media on our side, ever, in this country. We will never have the elite, smart people on our side. -- Rick Santorum, to Values Voters

... Josh Glasstetter of Right Wing Watch has more on the backers & speakers at the Values Voters Summit where Ryan spoke. What is most disturbing is that a vice-presidential candidate, members of Congress and two sitting governors are right at home with this bunch of documented wackos & holy warriors. ...

... Steve Benen has more in a feature he's carried over from his days at Washington Monthly: "This Week in God." ...

... Brian McLaren, writing on CNN's "Belief" blog: "... any discussion of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relations around the world must include the phenomenon of American Islamophobia, for which large sectors of evangelical Christianity in America serve as a greenhouse." Thanks to contributor Lisa for the link.

"Don't Tell Anyone, But the Stimulus Worked." David Firestone of the New York Times: "On the most basic level, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is responsible for saving and creating 2.5 million jobs. The majority of economists agree that it helped the economy grow by as much as 3.8 percent, and kept the unemployment rate from reaching 12 percent. The stimulus is the reason, in fact, that most Americans are better off than they were four years ago, when the economy was in serious danger of shutting down."

Presumption of Guilt, with a Price. Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times: more than 300 district attorneys across the nation are allowing debt collection companies to use their stationery & permitting those debt collection companies to not only threaten criminal prosecution for writing bad checks but also to con the check-writers into taking costly, stupid classes on "financial accountability." CW: one irony: the biggest debt collection agency using this D.A. scam -- went bankrupt. Maybe that shoulda taken their own stupid class. P.S. This egregious practice is just what Americans should expect to happen when private corporations take over public functions. Privatization is a racket.

Jeremiah Goulka explains in a Salon piece why he left the GOP. The ignorance Goulka admits is stunning, but let's give him credit for admitting it. There are millions of Americans who are just as ill-informed as Goulda once was and living lives just as insular as Goulka's was. Thanks to Lisa for the link.

Presidential Race

John Ingold of the Denver Post: "Mitt Romney canceled his Sunday afternoon campaign rally after a fatal small-plane crash at the airport in Pueblo, [Colorado,] closed down two of three runways. An experimental, home-built airplane crashed as it was attempting to land at Pueblo Memorial Airport around 9 a.m. Sunday. The man ... died in the crash. He was the only person on board. Romney, making his first campaign visit to Colorado in a month, had been scheduled to speak at the Weisbrod Aircraft Museum on the airport's grounds at around 4:30 p.m. Sunday."

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is declining to endorse Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's charge that President Barack Obama has 'thrown allies like Israel under the bus' during his first term in office. In an interview aired Sunday on NBC's 'Meet The Press,' Netanyahu initially demurred on Romney's comments, but then appeared to distance himself from the GOP candidate's inflammatory charge. 'You're trying to get me into the American election and I'm not going to do that,' the Israeli prime minister said." CW: Evidently Bibi has been reading the polls.

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: after initially faltering in public opinion polls, Democrats are winning the Medicare argument again. CW: Calmes is writing what is mostly a horse-race story, but she does write: "At the heart of the conflict is the proposal backed by Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan to change the way Medicare works in an effort to drive down health care costs and keep the program solvent as the population ages.... Critics say the fixed payments might not keep up with rising insurance costs and could leave older Americans facing cutbacks in care or paying more out of their own pockets." (Emphasis added.) That's about as pro-Romney/Ryan as a report can get & not qualify as an op-ed piece.

"The Foreign Relations Fumbler." Nicholas Kristof: "... every time Romney touches foreign policy, he breaks things.... It has been unseemly for Romney to side with a foreign leader [Netanyahu] in spats with the United States." Kristof also writes, "President Obama himself blew it a few days ago by mistakenly asserting that we didn't consider Egypt an ally." CW: that was no fumble. See Juan Cole's take, linked in yesterday's Commentariat.

"Neocons Slither Back." Maureen Dowd: in his Values Voters speech, “Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor. The hawkish Romney adviser has been secunded to manage the running mate and graft a Manichaean worldview onto the foreign affairs neophyte. A moral, muscular foreign policy; a disdain for weakness and diplomacy; a duty to invade and bomb Israel's neighbors; a divine right to pre-emption -- it's all ominously familiar." ...

... Emily Schultheis of Politico: "Fear of President Barack Obama -- not enthusiasm for Mitt Romney -- is driving religious conservatives to pull the lever for the GOP nominee this November.... Conservatives attending the [Values Voters Summit] said they worried about a range of things during a possible Obama II, from implementation of the president's health care law, and a move to what they saw as more 'socialist' policies to the end of the very values -- including the protection of life and traditional marriage -- that they came to the summit to support. House Majority Whip Eric Cantor ... framed the campaign as a battle for the very core of the country, saying another term for Obama would continue the nation's decline. 'This election is going to determine whether or not the very moral fabric of our country will be upheld, or whether it will be torn apart,' he said."

Dylan Byers of Politico: Romney's "blame the liberal media" ploy isn't working all that well when a good deal of the criticism is coming from the right.

Right Wing World

It seems Right Wing World is winging out over "brownshirted enforcers ... [who made] a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration." I won't link to the original Instapundit post, but here are comments by John Cole of Balloon Juice and David Watkins of Lawyers, Guns & Money, both of whom cite the "key bits" of "evidence" that has led Instapundit to regretfully demand that President Obama immediately resign in disgrace.

Local News

Deborah Charles of the AP: "Voting-rights groups that virtually stopped registering voters in Florida for a year as they challenged the state's new restrictions on elections now are scrambling to get people there registered for the November 6 election."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Having been rebuffed privately by President Obama last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel took to the airwaves in the United States on Sunday to warn that Iran was only six or seven months from having -90 percent' of what it needed to make an atomic bomb."

AP: "Hundreds of Pakistanis protesting an anti-Islam video produced in the United States clashed with police as they tried to march toward the U.S. Consulate in the southern city of Karachi." ...

... Guardian: "Defence secretary Leon Panetta said Sunday that the US was still on standby to deploy elite forces to protect American interests in cities caught up in a wave of Muslim protest, but that the level of violence appears to be levelling off." ...

... Washington Post: "The Obama administration ordered the evacuation of all but emergency U.S. government personnel, and all family members, from diplomatic missions in Tunisia and Sudan on Saturday and warned Americans not to travel to those countries. The action came as leaders across the Muslim world took stock of their relationship with the United States, a major provider of aid and investment, and struggled to balance it with the will of their populations." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Libyan authorities have arrested about 50 people in connection to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which the US ambassador and three embassy staff were killed, Libya's parliamentary chief said." ...

... Al Jazeera: "The attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans and ten Libyans was the work of 'experienced masterminds' that had been planned well in advance, the Libyan president says. 'I think this was al-Qaeda,' President Mohamed al-Magarief told Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid on Friday...." ...

     ... ABC News Update: "U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was not premeditated, directly contradicting top Libyan officials who say the attack was planned in advance."

Washington Post: "Four international service members were killed early Sunday near a remote NATO installation in southern Afghanistan when a member of the Afghan security forces opened fire on them.... The deaths at a remote checkpoint in Zabul province marked an escalation of so-called insider attacks on foreign troops.... On Saturday, an Afghan gunman thought to belong to the local police killed two British soldiers in southern Helmand province."

Chicago Tribune: "Thousands of teachers from Chicago and beyond rallied at a Near West Side park Saturday as lawyers labored into the night at a Loop office to turn a framework for a new contract into finer points that can become a deal. Hundreds of union leaders are scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Sunday for a potential vote that could end the walkout." ...

     ... Update: "The Chicago teachers strike will continue Monday as the union's House of Delegates refused to halt the walk out this afternoon and signaled classes may not resume before Wednesday."

AP: "About 300 people observing the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street marched to a small concrete park in New York's lower Manhattan that served as headquarters for the protest movement and was its birthplace. Police patrolled the crowd Saturday and took at least a dozen people into custody near Trinity Church that borders Zuccotti Park.... Protesters marched from Washington Square Park and headed south down Broadway to Zuccotti Park, chanting as they went."

Reader Comments (8)

Marie, thank you for pointing out Kristof's (possible) error in characterizing Obama's "ally" remarks as a flub. Juan Cole is most convincing that it was not, that it was in fact a persuasive use of diplomacy, which showed great subtlety and sophistication - two qualities you could never attribute to Romney. According to Cole, the message sent to Morsi worked.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Re: Dumber than a bullfrog; I guess I can admire Mr. Goulka's awakening. Hard to admit having the wool pulled over your eyes for a lifetime. But come on, does anybody grow up that isolated or insulated from the realities of our society? I think the key is his repeated thought that because he was born and raised better than all the rest of us, he deserved his position. That is the core belief of the Republicans.
GOP; Greedy, Oblivious, Pendejos. But better late then never.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Just followed your link to Steve Benen's post, where toward the latter part of his otherwise salient post, he says: "I hope I'm not the only one who finds this rather disconcerting."

Benen is certainly given to understatement following the details he highlighted as to what was said and played out at the Values Voter Summit.

He should rephrase it to say. "I hope I'm not the only one who finds this f&@#ing insane."

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Having read Goulka's confessions I must confess I was moved by his previous naiveté and his now rude awakenings. Kate and I could send this piece to our brothers and say––SEE––stop being such chumps and open your eyes––but alas, I doubt it would change anything.

While on the Salon site I happened to come upon another little gem: Katie Billotte's "Conservatives Killed the Liberal Arts," with a photo of Bill Buckley on the front piece looking as though he's had one too many martinis as he was wont to have.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Thank the Universe! MoDo is back on her game temporarily, I am sure, seens to gave given up her grudge against Barry. Taking on Paulie AynRyn and his NeoCon mentor, Dan Senor, is exactly what she should be doing. Dan Senor, talk about a know-nothing, dumbass creep. He still believes we liberated Iraq! Yikes.

IMHO after Obama is safely reelected, we should take up the worthy cause (again) of bringing the NeoCon war zombies to justice. We may have to be rid of Eric Holder to do that, but I am beginning to see the stirrings of a new movement--smart people who are horrified that the "crazier than shit-house rat" slimebags are trying to dance their way back into the ballroom of the Imperial Prom. BTW, I think Liz Cheney should be her father's prison cellmate. They could survive for awhile on their pate of vitriol!

Maybe I am dreaming, but I am not the only one...........

P.S. Remember the Supremes!

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

I especially liked the Rick Santorum quote of the day "we will never have smart people on our side". Doesn't that say it all? What person with any smarts would commit to a group that obviously hates them?
Oh! I forgot, millions are doing it, which just proves that otherwise
intelligent people can be brainwashed by repeating the same lies over and over. WTF.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

This quote from the Reuters article on voter registration in Florida makes me despair, especially about the chances of taking Florida:
"Two weeks ago, a federal judge issued an injunction preventing the state from enforcing the law. But because the law was in place for about a year, its impact was stark, especially among Democrats.
The Florida Times Union has said 11,365 people registered as Democratic voters in the 13 months that ended at the end of August, compared with an average of 209,425 for the same periods before the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections."
The bastards.
I do wonder why a system couldn't have been put into place by Dems to offset the negative effects of the law - but it's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

This passage from Brian McLaren's article is profound:
"Islamophobic evangelical Christians - and the neo-conservative Catholics and even some Jewish folks who are their unlikely political bedfellows of late - must choose.

Will they press on in their current path, letting Islamophobia spread even further amongst them? Or will they stop, rethink and seek to a more charitable approach to our Muslim neighbors? Will they realize that evangelical religious identity is under assault, not by Shariah law, not by the liberal media, not by secular humanism from the outside, but by forces within the evangelical community that infect that religious identity with hostility?

If I could get one message through to my evangelical friends, it would be this: The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.

No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate."

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.
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