The Ledes

Wednesday, August 27, 2014.

AP: "Syrian rebels, including fighters from an al-Qaida-linked group, seized control of a frontier crossing with Israel in the Golan Heights on Wednesday after heavy clashes with President Bashar Assad's forces, activists and rebels said. The capture of the post along Syria's de facto border in the Golan held more symbolic value than strategic, but rebels said it would provide relief to nearby villages that were under siege by government troops."

Washington Post: "An open-ended cease-fire between Hamas and Israel was holding Wednesday after seven weeks of warfare that killed more than 2,200 people."

Washington Post: "Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of stepping up military activity in the annexed territory of Crimea and sending in troops to help separatists near a key seaport in southeastern Ukraine."

New York Times: "Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said on Wednesday that French prosecutors had placed her under formal investigation over a murky business affair that dates to her time as finance minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, August 26, 2014.

New York Times: "The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index reached a milestone on Tuesday, closing above 2,000 for the first time ever, if just barely. It was a lazy day of trading that picked up on some encouraging signs in the United States economy, but not enough for sustained optimism in the market."

ABC News: "A third American hostage held by ISIS has been identified as a 26-year-old American woman who was kidnapped a year ago while doing humanitarian relief work in Syria. The terror group is demanding $6.6 million and the release of U.S. prisoners for the life of the young woman, whom a representative for the family requested not be identified."

New York Times: "A 33-year-old American who was fighting for the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was killed in recent days in a battle with a rival group in Syria, a senior American official said on Tuesday. The authorities identified the man as Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego. According to a human rights group that tracks the conflict in Syria, Mr. McCain was killed in a battle in Marea, a city in northern Syria near the Turkish border. Mr. McCain had been on a watch list of potential terrorism suspects maintained by the United States government, American officials said."

New York Times: "Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday reached a long-term cease-fire after seven weeks of fighting, according to officials on both sides, halting the longest, bloodiest battle either side has experienced in years — but without resolving many of the bigger issues underlying the conflict."

New York Times: "Burger King Worldwide agreed on Tuesday to buy the Canadian restaurant chain Tim Hortons for about $11.4 billion, creating one of the biggest fast-food operations in the world – with a little help from Warren E. Buffett. As part of the transaction, however, the American burger giant will move its home to Canada, where the combined company’s biggest market will be."

Washington Post: "Ukraine said Tuesday its forces detained a group of Russian paratroopers who crossed the border into eastern Ukraine, and the U.S. ambassador to Kiev warned of a possible “Russian-directed counteroffensive” by pro-Moscow separatists, raising tensions between the two countries as their presidents attended a regional summit."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
August 27

12:45 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

1:00 pm ET: White House Veteran Entrepreneur Champions of Change forum

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

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

New York Times: "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was a win for broadcast and cable television, which earned numerous awards as the digital gate-crasher Netflix was nearly shut out. AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' scored big on Monday night, winning a total of five awards, including its second consecutive prize for outstanding drama series. The crime drama, about a high school teacher who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer and starts selling crystal meth with a former student, concluded its final season." Here's the L.A. Times' coverage.

... Via Slate.

Looking for a bucolic retreat where the townspeople will protect you from curious outsiders? Got about $700K to burn? Then you might be interested in purchasing the former home of fiction writer J. D. Salinger. the property is located in Cornish, New Hamphire:

... Many more pix & a virtual tour here.

Kevin Roose of New York: "How to make $200MM in 28 months." CW: Yeah, I know. Twenty-eight months is a lo-o-o-ong time.

Stupid Wiki Tricks. Telegraph: "Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to stop distributing his most famous shot for free – because a monkey pressed the shutter button and should own the copyright."

The Wrap: "James Corden is taking over for Craig Ferguson as host of 'The Late Late Show' on CBS, an individual with knowledge of the situation has told TheWrap.... Corden stars in Disney's 'Into the Woods' and can currently be seen alongside Keira Knightley in 'Begin Again.'”

John Oliver on "native advertising." Via Juan Cole:

Justice Ginsburg on the Tumblr site Notorious R.B.G.:

Washington Post: "Former president George W. Bush has been writing a book about his father, former president George H.W. Bush. The book will be published in November."

"Homophonia." Caroline Moss of Business Insider: "An education blogger in Utah is out of a job today after writing [righting] a blog post explaining 'homophones' for the Nomen Global Language Center. Tim Torkildson said he was fired by [buy] his boss and NGLC owner, Clarke Woodger, for [four] promoting a gay agenda." Here's Torkildson's blogpost on his firing. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times: "New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission would do well to turn down the Frick Collection’s proposed expansion, which imagines replacing a prized garden on East 70th Street in Manhattan with a clumsy addition. The city should avoid another self-inflicted wound, and there are other options." CW: As I recall, the garden is that it is difficult to see from the street. I love the garden court & have spent a good deal of time there.

Martha Stewart has a drone.

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.

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Saturday
Sep222012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 23, 2012

Art by Evan Hughes for the New York Times.Economist Robert Frank in the New York Times: "The nation doesn't actually face difficult economic choices. Many problems will be expensive to solve, yet we can solve them without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone.... The debt is an important long-run problem, but deferring infrastructure repairs will only worsen it. Relative to current policy, then, such projects would address multiple pressing problems without distress.... By shifting taxes toward activities having harmful side effects, we can raise substantial revenue while expanding the economic pie." CW: good luck getting Congress to do the right thing.

Kathleen Geier, writing in the Washington Montly, comments on the New York Times report (which I also linked a couple of days ago) on a new study that shows "that the least educated white Americans are experiencing sharp declines in life expectancy." Geier writes -- as the Times reporters do not -- that "there is a compelling body of research that suggests that inequality itself -- quite apart from low incomes, or lack of health insurance -- is associated with more negative health outcomes for those at the bottom of the heap." Thanks to Trish R. for the link. ...

... Paul Krugman agrees: "... high inequality isn't just unfair, it kills."

Kevin Begos of the AP: "It sounds like a free-market success story: a natural gas boom created by drilling company innovation, delivering a vast new source of cheap energy without the government subsidies that solar and wind power demand. 'The free market has worked its magic,' the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, an industry group, claimed over the summer. The boom happened 'away from the greedy grasp of Washington,' the [conservative] American Enterprise Institute ... wrote in an essay this year. But ... over three decades, from the shale fields of Texas and Wyoming to the Marcellus in the Northeast, the federal government contributed more than $100 million in research to develop fracking, and billions more in tax breaks."

David Kirkpatrick & Steven Erlanger of the New York Times: "On the eve of his first trip to the United States as Egypt's new Islamist president Mohamed Morsi said the United States needed to fundamentally change its approach to the Arab world, showing greater respect for its values and helping build a Palestinian state, if it hoped to overcome decades of pent-up anger." The linked page has links to portions of the audio of Morsi's New York Times interview.

Gregory Wallace of CNN: Speaking at a Congressional Black Caucus gala, "Attorney General Eric Holder and first lady Michelle Obama weighed in Saturday on a battleground in the 2012 election: voting rights.... She did not specifically address voting laws, but stressed the importance of registering people to vote, calling it 'the movement of our era.'" ...

     ... Video of the First Lady's full speech is here.

Jeff McDonald of the San Diego Union Tribune: "Congressman Darrell Issa [R-Calif.] received a 'dishonorable mention' Wednesday on a list of the most corrupt lawmakers published Wednesday by ... Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington for placing information from a sealed wiretap into the congressional record earlier this year. Twenty members of Congress -- 12 Republicans and seven Democrats -- were singled out for what CREW said was unethical or illegal behavior over the past year. Eight of those, including Issa, received the dishonorablemention citations." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

CW: Frank Bruni's column, in which he interviews McClatchy News CEO & former Pittsburgh Pirates CEO Kevin McClatchy, is getting a lot of buzz today because McClatchy comes out as gay. My reaction is "Yeah, so?" but I guess this is a big deal over there in SportsWorld where at least one player wears gay-slur make-up to work.

Presidential Race

Quote of the Day. It's our turn, you guys. -- Mitt Romney, at a big-ticket fundraiser in California

Michael Barbaro & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "... a review of [Mitt Romney's] remarks at dozens of fund-raisers, in well-off neighborhoods from Los Angeles to Miami over the past year, highlights differences both subtle and significant in how he speaks to voters and donors.... The intimacy of the receptions (at homes and hotels), their transactional nature ($75,000 per couple is often pledged) and familiarity with that audience (usually filled with fellow businessmen and -women), appears to put Mr. Romney at ease. He uses looser language, divulges strategy, tells detailed personal stories and takes pointed questions." CW: Barbaro & Parker never suggest -- directly, anyway -- the obvious: that Romney is more comfortable when he's with "his people."

David Firestone of the New York Times: "Mr. Romney really doesn't see much difference between giving to charity and giving to the government.... In his mind, apparently, you can just add up the two figures into a new hybrid column, perhaps called, Total Obligation to Society, and make yourself look even more generous.... Taxes represent the obligations citizens have to each other and to society.... Charity is entirely voluntary, even for those who, like Mr. Romney, are asked by their religious authorities to tithe a fixed portion of their income.... One would think that someone running to be the government's chief executive would be proud to make tax payments, and would not try to reduce them through exotic foreign tax shelters and an outsized IRA, as Mr. Romney has done for years." CW: Firestone doesn't say so, but Romney has made this argument before: in mid-August, responding to Harry Reid's remark that he'd heard Romney hadn't paid taxes for 10 years, Romney himself said, in part, "... every year I've paid at least 13 percent and if you add in addition the amount that goes to charity, why the number gets well above 20 percent."

New York Times illustration.Jill Lepore in the New York Times: Mitt Romney has been characterizing himself as an "underdog" since the primaries. "Mitt Romney is no Downtrodden Man. In May, at a fund-raiser in Florida, Mr. Romney expressed contempt for the '47 percent.' ... This is not a man who loves underdogs.... Research ... demonstrates that telling a story about yourself in which you are an underdog builds brand loyalty...." CW: you might think a man famous for riding in his car literally "under the dog" could find another term to call himself. ...

... Here's how UnderShamus treated Univision, the Spanish-language network which sponsored forums last week with him and with President Obama: according to McKay Coppins of Buzzfeed, both camps agreed to groundrules that the audience for the forums would be comprised mostly of students. But when the Romney camp couldn't come up with enough students, they demanded they be allowed to bus in "rowdy activists from around South Florida" or else Romney might have to "reschedule." Obama stuck to the rules. Then, with cameras rolling, Romney refused to appear on stage because he didn't like his introduction. He demanded it be changed & retaped before he would show his special brownface. One of the show's anchor, Maria Elena Salinas, called Romney's high-handed snits "a little bit of disrespect." ...

... CW: hey, what did she expect? The place was crawling with 47-percenters. At least Romney didn't demand they all show their papers or ask them for tips on lawn maintenance, for Pete's sake. Univision should have called his bluff & let the anchors spend the hour talking to an empty chair, which is of course a favorite GOP routine anyway. ¿Cómo se dice "major douchebag" en español?

Robert Reich: "So much wealth and power have accumulated at the top of America that our economy and our democracy are seriously threatened. Romney not only represents this problem. He is the living embodiment of it."

Jonathan Bernstein, in Slate, blames Tea Party conservatives, Fox "News" & Rush Limbaugh for Mitt Romney's faltering campaign.

Maureen Dowd disses Stuart Stevens, Romney's campaign guru & self-conscious dilettante. The New Republic profile of Stevens by Noam Scheiber, which Dowd refers to a couple of times, is here. Scheiber, BTW, blames Romney. ...

... Dowd also refers to a comment Lady Romney made on Radio Iowa Thursday, which contributor Forrest M. mentions in the Comments section:

Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring. This is hard and, you know, it's an important thing that we're doing right now and it's an important election and it is time for all Americans to realize how significant this election is and how lucky we are to have someone with Mitt's qualifications and experience and know-how to be able to have the opportunity to run this country. -- Ann Romney, addressing Republicans who have criticized her husband

... CW: I didn't see Lady Romney's little tantrum as anything more than another display of her customary petulance of privilege. But Jim Fallows of The Atlantic writes, "True as it might have been, Mrs. Romney's 'break' was also sad and damaging. Self-pity is doom for candidates.... Running for president is hard, but there is one thing harder. That's what happens if you win." One of the annoying downsides of our so-called democracy is that we tend to make our top royals sing & dance for the sorts of perks royals elsewhere simply inherit. Surely Republicans plan to fix that constitutional quirk soon.

Are Willard M. & Ann Romney "real Americans"? Not according to their just-released 2011 IRS 1040, where they claim their Belmont, Massachusetts, residence is in the "foreign country" USA.

CLICK RETURN TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.    ... Tax preparers say actual U.S. citizens would have left the "Foreign country name" space blank. As this couple did:

CLICK TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.

Jennifer Agiesta & Nancy Benac of the AP: "The challenge for President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney is how to lay claim to [undecided voters,] this small but mightily important swath of the electorate. These people are truly up for grabs, claim they're intent on voting and yet aren't paying that much attention." ...

... Just who are these undecided voters? Here are a few of them:

CW: The following belongs in Infotainment, but -- ironically enough -- I can't shrink the video, so I'm posting it here:

Bone-ified. Rushbo blames shrinking penis size on feminazis:

Reader Comments (12)

Check out Lady Ann's Friday diatribe, speaking in Iowa, the gist of
which was "you people (republicans) have to quit attacking my Mitt".
"You're so fortunate to have him to vote for" (I guess meaning that he
is someone other than Pres. Obama). Can't link, but search
upi.comannromneyspeechiowa.

September 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

In the comments recently someone cried "Where's the IRS?!" in reference to a piece about the superpacs. Bill Moyers (http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-elections-for-sale/) has a pretty good primer this week. If what Mr. Potter (oh, the irony!) is true, there's not much the IRS can do. It's up to the courts and congress to mandate disclosure.

Good luck with that people. For the time being we are so screwed.

September 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Here's a tip for Limbaugh:
"Pull quote (http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2012/sep/09/secret-world-male-anorexia?newsfeed=true):

“Being very thin makes your dick look enormous.”

September 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Re: Weighing in on something I know nothing about; The old joke about why men die before their wives came to mind after reading the articles about the decline in life expectancy among under-educated whites.
None of the researchers was willing to venture a guess on why; outside the fast growing inequality gap, but I'm sitting in my lab coat with my furry research team gathered around (they do not wear lab coats) and we've come up with some pretty obvious reasons.
High school dropouts marry(or not) other high school dropouts and have babies at a younger age and more often than people that have high school educations. More babies at younger ages takes its toll.
Garage drugs fuck you up, the studies mention script drugs but no mention at all about garbage can meth. There are places in the south and the mid-west that would qualify for a Fed toxic waste clean-up if all the meth shops were identified. "Meth, takin' the last tooth out of the south".
Finally, hard to prove but we here at JJG research believe that the spark of life burns longest when the atmosphere of wonder is present. What's life without curiosity? Sure, we lose a few gatos, but all of us perros say a life without sniffing is a shortened life.
With no education there's no base to build curiosity. To be or not to be maybe the question but the question is the reason to be.
Most 90 and up aware people I have met (including my mother who was a life long learner) are still engaged and fascinated by life. When my mother was no longer interested in her books, music and art I knew she was ready for the next big adventure.
Interesting that the 'Party of Life' is doing its damnest to shorten our lives, isn't it?

September 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Gotta love the how Lord and Lady Rat never quit on this bullshit about "turns". Mitt might want to cease and desist with his "It's my turn" whining, as if the presidency were an amusement park ride. Otherwise a helpful attendant will show him that sign outside the Oval Office with the chart indicating that "OCCUPANTS MUST HAVE BALLS VISIBLE TO THE NAKED EYE".

Then again Lady Rat might get in.

Maybe Limpbaugh's theory is true after a fashion, at least for Republicans.

September 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Okay. Everyone needs to check out Sarah Siverman'a tirade against the teabagging Steal the Vote swine.

Go to YouTube/sarahsilverman

and look for her video on Republican cockblockimg at the polls. You can also find a link to this clip on Marie's pal Jim Fallows' Atlantic blog.

Best part is when Sarah determines that veterans who have lost limbs fighting for Bush and Cheney's invented war can't use their IDs to vote in vote stealing states but that NRA turds can use their membership ID (how is this any different from using your Captain Marvel Fan Club card as am "official" ID?????) to cast votes, as long as they vote "correctly".

September 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Usually I come here to be educated but occasionally, were this a newspaper, I would have the satisfaction of hurling it across the room with a stream of Akhilleus worthy invective. Such is my reaction to the "Are Willard M and Anne Romney....." article. Does anyone think that Mitt actually sits down to create a 300 page tax return? The article is neither Foxnewsworthy nor Bill O'Reilly humorous. At least when someone on MSNBC goes on at nauseum I can switch to CBC for 5 minutes and usually we're on to another subject when I return. Here, for days, I will see that cute headline.

September 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercowichan

Wasn't gonna post today, but... Most days, I spend a lot of waking hours rummaging around in backwater news sites, trying to grasp what the hoi pololi are really worried about. And I gotta tell ya, I sense an enormous shift from republican bullshit to democrats... much of it down-ballot stuff.

September 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

@cowichan: Actually, no one other than their team of accountants sits down and creates a tax return over 2 pages. And we all know that.
My tax return is only a little less than 100 pages (small business, very
small) but I know enough to look at the first page to know that it's my
name, SSN, where I reside, etc. before I sign it. You should stay with
CBC.

September 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

@cowichen: Lighten up. Of course I don't think the Romneys complete their own tax returns. (I don't do mine, either, & they're a lot less complicated than the Romneys'.) The Romneys' tax preparers at PriceWaterhouse Coopers have been prominently in the news this weekend, & I've linked to stories & posts that mention PWC. In addition, Romney mentioned numerous times in the past 6 months or so that he'd release his returns when the tax preparers got them ready.

I also don't think either the tax preparers or the Romneys themselves consider the U.S. to be a foreign country in which the Romneys happen to be residing in their quest to control the world or something -- any more than does Elizabeth Flock, whose piece I linked.

PWC screwed up the front page of the Romneys' estimated return, & -- especially given Mitt Romney's willingness to accommodate birthers, who actually do believe Barack Obama is a foreign agent who was born someplace else -- I thought it was funny.

Tossing your computer across the room is ill-advised. I'm glad you were able to control your rage. And next time, save it for something worthwhile. There is plenty out there that's PC-tossing-worthy.

Marie

September 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

DaveS thank-you for the Moyers link. I read the transcript with interest. It seems that the IRS could pursue the gift tax angle with mega secret donors but bullying by Congressional Republicans coupled with limited resources were the catalysts to shutting those inquiries down. Although Potter, suggests that passing stronger disclosure laws in the best response, I am cynical that will work. That has been soundly rejected to this point. I see no evidence that the extreme judicial activists on the Court will do little but double down on destroying the basic American ideal of one man one vote.

September 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

The Kevin Begos story on energy subsidies is well worth reading. Especially in light of the fact that Congress, in its wisdom, may cut off further subsidies for wind power at the end of the year. The Republican argument is that the subsidies have dragged on two long and there is no certainty of a payoff. The article points out we have been subsidizing different forms of energy research and exploration for decades, with overall success, even though the condition of uncertainty always applies, and the lengthiness of the search often does as well.

September 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.
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