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.

Friday
May172013

The Short Life of Umbrella-Gate

An Investigative Report

President Obama & PM Erdogan of Turkey at a joint presser Thursday.

Mr. President, when it rains it pours, but most Americans hold their own umbrellas. -- Sarah Palin

Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post elaborates on conservative outrage over President Obama's elitist, unamerican activity. (The true challenge of the conservative life is that one must exist in a perpetual state of outrage. It seems likely that the only reason liberals are liberals is that they are too lazy & irresponsible to live in a constant cloud of fury and existential indignation.)

Hawaii, Birthplace of Umbrella-Gate. Not surprisingly, then-Vice President Richard Nixon began the tradition of having retainers hold the umbrellas of Presidents & presidential hopefuls. Nixon began this practice in Hawaii, of all places, a year before President Obama was allegedly born there. The obvious similarities between the Nixon & Obama scandals are stunning & incontrovertible:

Update. Contributor Dan Sheerin adds this excellent image of President Gerald Ford one-upping the guy who handed him the top job. Ford's umbrella-holding serviceman is Lt. Col. Robert Blake, a military aide with a chestful of medals. AND, as Sheerin points out, you can purchase the photo on ebay. Buy It Now for $23.88! Like Obama, Ford was hosting foreign dignitaries, among them West German President Walter Scheel. Unlike Obama, who called for the umbrellas specifically for the benefit of PM Erdogan, Ford did not bother to protect his distinguished guests from the rain. A shocking diplomatic catastrophe made all the more curious by Scheel's apparent indifference (he's smiling in the photo) to the affront. Not to mention, Col. Blake, the Umbrella Man, looks pretty content, too.

President & Mrs. Reagan greet guests while scandalously standing under an umbrella which a retainer holds:

Carrying on the grotesque tradition which Nixon & the Reagans firmly established, Reagan's successor George H. W. Bush stands beneath an umbrella held by a marine. Note how the marine has to hold his arm WAY UP because the upper-crusty Bush has placed himself on a pedestal. Not surprisingly, Bush lost his re-election bid. Later, combat veteran Sgt. Randolph C. Bumbershoot told reporters that holding an umbrella for a tall guy standing on a pedestal was the most difficult mission of his military career.

     Update: Commenter DTA1401 has assumed that Marine means "U.S. Marine." As s/he says, "those are not American military uniforms." I think Sgt. Bumbershoot is a Maltese Marine.

Campaigning in 2008, Palin's hapless running-mate John McCain stands under an umbrella which an aide is holding:

When asked why he couldn't hold his own umbrella, McCain apologized, explaining he has difficulty raising his arms as the result of injuries sustained while in captivity during the Vietnam War. But his real reason was likely a fear of looking like this:

Update. Commenter American Vet -- one of those perpetual-state-of-outrage people -- observes, "Not one picture you posted, shows any American Military Personnel holding an umbrella for any leader. Investigative report indeed, big difference." Howz this? The man to the left of Bush Pere appears to me to be an "American Military Person" as does the man to the right of Bush Fils. Each of these apparent American Military Personnel is holding an umbrella for the President. (Note also that the populist Democratic president appearing in photo with Bush I is holding his own umbrella, & perhaps coincidentally, looks like the happiest guy in the crowd):

OOPS! Palin herself is not like "most Americans" who "hold their own umbrellas":

Ever:

-30-

References (10)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
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Reader Comments (17)

Those are not US Marines in the picture of George H. W. Bush under the umbrella being held by men in uniform. Those are not American military uniforms of any kind, and US servicemen do not salute like that. The picture was obviously taken in a foreign country.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTA1401

Well, well, well––wouldn't you know, the God's Own Party smarty Palin person, the one who has always been the wettest behind the ears says ya gotta carry your own umbrella just like a regular fella even though you are POTUS or a head of state–––BUT wait! Our very own intrepid Constant Weader has dug up a few photos that belie Miss Grizzly Bear's assertion ( on her asparagus, I imagine). The irony these days never tires of showing itself, does it?

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@DT1401: You are correct that they're not US Marines. Also note the salute with palm facing out. American service personnel salute with the palm down. The narrative never said US Marines, though. Sgt Bumbershoot clarified the matter.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbarossa

Not one picture you posted, shows any American Military Personnel holding an umbrella for any leader. Investigative report indeed, big difference.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmerican Vet

Perhaps Obama should have run over and held PM Erdogan's umbrella. Yeah, black guying holding the umbrella, sounds about right to me.

Marie great observation that Republican = outrage 24/7.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

@American Vet. Point taken (although this was not Palin's point). See update.

And for those of you inclined to take me literally, even on a ridiculous subject, let me just say that I have no problem with the POTUS seeking shelter under an umbrella which another person is holding, particularly while conducting public functions. The "dignity of the office" & all.

In the case of Obama's calling for umbrellas, he did so during a joint presser with a foreign leader. To have left the prime minister of Turkey out in the rain would have been a diplomatic embarrassment, & to have asked for an umbrella for Erdogan but not for himself would have been just as bad, suggesting Erdogan was a wimp but he wasn't.

Palin's tweet was stupid on every level.

Marie

May 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

This report seems a bit incomplete, the product perhaps of typically lazy librul internet delving.

I would like to know who was holding the umbrellas ready to hand before the indolent, meanie President inflicted such horrid indignity on soldiers, whose limbs as we all know are trained, designed and intended to heft only weapons, via a kind of inverse Hippocratic Oath, to do only harm. Who were those umbrellas intended to embarrass? The President? The Marines? You and me? The entire country? Who looked at the forecast, anticipated the opportunity and provided the materiel to make yet another explosive scandal possible?

Now there was the evil genius I'd like to uncloak. Was there a grinning Cheney standing just offstage out of camera range? My suspicions are aroused.

I could research the matter a bit more, but as a librul, I'm far too lazy.

Have a great weekend, all.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@American Vet; no disrespect, Sir. The following quote is from US Marine Colonel David E. Lownds about his orders to hold Khe Sanh in 1968; "Marines have one funny habit- they do what the hell they're told." The President is Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces. When he says, "Jump" on the way up a US Marine says "Sir, How high? Sir" Again, no disrespect, Sir The President didn't want to get wet. Where the hell was the meteorologist; is my question. Probably Air Force.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

How and why is this a problem? How does the holding of an umbrella for the Commander in Chief become a scandal?

Seriously? This is a problem?

Lou Dobbs, who, like so many other whining chicken hawks, spent zero days in uniform, deems it an outrage that the president ask a Marine to hold an umbrella, seems to be one and the same with so many others who find this situation unacceptable. Why then, did they, or any of the multitude of critics and haters, find it completely acceptable that Army Green Berets held umbrellas over the heads of both Bush 41 and Bush 42. Army Special Forces personnel are somehow less deserving of the kind of "respect" that a request for holding an umbrella over the head of their Commander in Chief might suggest?

And why is it an outrage to ask military personnel to accept this task but okay for civilians or military personnel from other countries? And why is it such an outrage to ask a member of the American Military to perform this task for their Commander in chief? It's not like he's demanding that they mow his lawn or walk the frickin' dog.

This is nothing but another made up scandal by the right and all those who hate this president, whether for his party affiliation, skin color, or both. And THAT is the true scandal here.

I have never in my life heard anything so ridiculous as these caterwauling babies crying about how Obama "disrespects" the military because they had to hold an umbrella. Are you freakin' kidding me???

You want to talk about disrespect? How about a president who deserted in time of war and then primps and prances about in a flight suit when declaring that the war he lied to start has been finished (we won't mention that that war is still going on a decade after that disgraceful, mendacious, insulting, and eminently disrespectful action).

So anyone who is up in arms about this had better be ready to explain why it was okay for plenty of former presidents to request such assistance but not for this one, because if they can't, that is the real disgrace.

And those who suggest that the president should have demanded that Secret Service agents hold umbrellas at the expense of their actual jobs are either completely bereft of rationality or simply stupid.

This is nothing but Obama Hatred and I'll be thrilled to debate anyone who thinks differently. What's next? OUTRAGE because the president doesn't drive his own car or drop off his own dry cleaning?

Ridiculous.

None of these people would dared have complained about this had it been Saint Ronald of Reagan or Deserter Bush.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Oops, sorry, I meant Bush 43.

And Marie, thanks for your investigative report.

It answers all the questions and rebuts the ridiculous and stupid, stupid, stupid questions surrounding this non-scandalous scandal.

Is this really all we have to worry about?

If that were the case, the problems of the country, the hemisphere, the world, the solar system, the galaxy, the universe, would all be put to bed, neatly.

Oh, wait, you mean that hasn't happened??

Shit, we better be more concerned with freakin' umbrellas from here on out.

What kind of "investigation" would suffice? I'd love to know. Would it be one that confirms the outrage of the haters?

Yeah, probably. That might do it.

Black, Mooslim, Kenyan, Democratic president dares to ask Marine to hold an umbrella, which becomes a scandal even though white presidents have been doing this thing for decades.

Whooooooo.....seems pretty fucking scandalous to me.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The army personal had an umbrella and the president HAD to ask him to hold it for him when it started raining?
pff. only in murricca

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

I kinda like this as a scandal marginally intelligent citizens can jump on. Provides humor; keeps them occupied.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

@American Vet: That most certainly is a US Marine holding the umbrella for the Commander in Chief. The people who said the Army personnel holding the umbrellas for Bush pere are Green Berets, They're not, The beret was the standard Army headgear at the time. If you look closely, the berets are black, not green.

Honestly, I saw more mature behavior in Junior High than the current crop of Republicans.

.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbarossa

@anonymous. Catchy name. Clearly you're not following the thread.

Marie

May 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@James Singer. I would wholeheartedly agree with you but for the racial animus that surrounds this ludicrous "issue." Looking for pix, I trolled a few Websites where the mouthbreathers comment, & many have projected their own racial hatred onto Obama: thus, in their twisted little minds, Obama only asked for umbrellas because he wanted to humiliate white Marines & make them look like lawn jockeys on the black man's turf. The lowlifes are alive & well on the Internets.

There's a whiff of racism in Palin's criticism, though I'd put most of it down to her rampant case of sociopathy: it's okay when I do it but not when Obama does it, even if I do it routinely & Obama does it at official events.

When Palin acknowledges that the Bushes & other presidents didn't always hold their own umbrellas at official functions, I'll take back my whiff-of-racism charge. In any event, she owes the President another apology.

Some commenters complained that it was atrocious Obama made a Marine hold an umbrella for a "foreigner." Wait till they find out the "foreigner" is a Mooslim, something they can't tell because Erdogan wears Western suits & presumably did not show up at the White House gate astride a camel, which are likely scarce in Turkey.

Marie

May 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@Marie: One of my ex-wives, a Turk, will attest to the fact that there are no free-ranging camels in Turkei.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Also this one of President Ford ... and it's even for sale! http://www.ebay.com/itm/1975-Presidential-Umbrella-Lt-Col-Robert-Blake-President-Ford-Press-Photo-/200764318807

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDan Sheerin

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