The Ledes

Tuesday, February 9, 2016.

New York Times: "Artur Fischer, a German inventor who registered more than 1,100 patents, including the first synchronized camera flash and an anchor that millions of do-it-yourselfers use to secure screws into walls, died on Jan. 27 at his home in Waldachtal, in southwestern Germany. He was 96."

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, February 7, 2016.

New York Times: "Robin Chandler Duke, a rags-to-riches grande dame who married an ambassador and became one of America’s best known advocates for women by championing reproductive rights and international family planning, died in Charleston, S.C., on Saturday. She was 92."

New York Times: "Defying warnings of tougher sanctions from Washington, North Korea launched a rocket on Sunday that Western experts believe is part of a program to develop intercontinental ballistic missile technologies."

White House Live Video
February 8

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing, with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of NIH/NIAID, & Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC

4:15 pm ET: Celebrating African-American women & dance

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Times: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

... Hank Stuever of the Washington Post: The "final episodes of 'Downton Abbey' are among the show’s best since the first season — and they’ll reassure those hoping for the happiest possible endings for nearly every character."

BBC News: "A monument from a temple in the ancient city of Palmyra destroyed by so-called Islamic State (IS) is to be recreated in London's Trafalgar Square. The 2,000-year-old arch is all that remains of the Temple of Bel, part of the Syrian Unesco World Heritage site, captured by militants in May. It will be recreated from photographs, using a 3D printer. The institute behind the project hopes the arch will draw attention to the importance of cultural heritage." ...

... John Brennan & Sarah Knapton of the (Irish) Independent: "Ireland's saints and scholars were descended from farmers and bronze metalworkers from the Middle East and modern-day Ukraine, scientists have found. Researchers have sequenced ancient Irish human genomes for the first time. They discovered mass migrations to Ireland thousands of years ago resulted in huge changes to the ancient Irish genetic make-up. A team of geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen's University Belfast made the findings, which show a massive shift in our genetic mix over the course of just 1,000 years. They believe the genetic influxes brought cultural change such as moving to settled farmsteads, bronze metalworking - and may have even been the origin of western Celtic language." ...

... CW: One trouble with denigrating certain ethnic groups: we're all cousins. Sorry, "white" people.

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 (13)

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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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