The Ledes

Friday, July 25, 2014.

New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed a two-stage plan to halt the fighting in the Gaza Strip that would first impose a weeklong truce starting Sunday, an official involved in the negotiations said on Friday. As soon as the truce took effect, Palestinian and Israeli officials would begin negotiations on the principal economic, political and security concerns about Gaza, with other nations attending." ...

... AFP: "Israeli fire Friday pushed the Palestinian death toll in Gaza to above 800, as Washington pressed Israel and Hamas to agree a week-long humanitarian ceasefire and thrash out a durable truce."

AFP: "The United States on Thursday said it had evidence Russian forces were firing artillery from inside Russia on Ukrainian troops, in what officials called a 'clear escalation' of the conflict. Moscow is also planning to 'deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers' to the pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine, US deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said." ...

... AFP: "Ukraine's prime minister resigned after his governing coalition collapsed, plunging the former Soviet state into political limbo as it struggles to quell a deadly rebellion in the east.... Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said he was stepping down over the "dissolution of the parliamentary coalition and the blocking of government initiatives" after several parties walked out on the ruling group. The collapse of the ruling coalition paves the way for early elections to be called by President Petro Poroshenko within 30 days."

New York Times: "As a detachment of French soldiers reached the crash site in Mali of an Air Algérie jetliner, officials in Paris said Friday that the accident was most likely weather-related and that the distribution of the wreckage over a limited area suggested that the plane probably hit the ground intact."

 

Guardian: "The Washington Post's correspondent in Tehran has been arrested along with his Iranian wife and two American photojournalists. Iranian judicial offficials confirmed on Friday that Jason Rezaian, who holds dual American and Iranian citizenship, had been detained and is under investigation."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, July 24, 2014.

New York Times: "A series of explosions at a school run by the United Nations sheltering hundreds of Palestinians who had fled their homes for safety from Israeli military assaults killed at least 16 people on Thursday afternoon and wounded many more. The cause was not immediately clear."

Bloomberg News: "Jobless claims fell by 19,000 to 284,000 in the week ended July 19, the fewest since February 2006 and lower than any economist surveyed by Bloomberg forecast...."

Guardian: "A flight operated by Air Algérie carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria's capital disappeared from radar early on Thursday, the plane's owner said." ...

... New York Times UPDATE: "An Air Algérie jetliner with 116 people on board crashed early Thursday in a remote area of Mali near the borders with Burkina Faso and Niger, officials said."

The Guardian is liveblogging developments in the Gaza crisis. More than 700 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, many of them children.

Reuters: "A powerful Ukrainian rebel leader has confirmed that pro-Russian separatists had an anti-aircraft missile of the type Washington says was used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and it could have originated in Russia. In an interview with Reuters, Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion, acknowledged for the first time since the airliner was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday that the rebels did possess the BUK missile system and said it could have been sent back subsequently to remove proof of its presence."

Los Angeles Times: "The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday night lifted its ban on U.S. flights to and from Tel Aviv."

Public Service Announcement

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

White House Live Video
July 23

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the NAACP national convention in Las Vegas, Nevada (audio only)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact the Constant Weader

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

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-

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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