Thursday, May 23, 2013.
AP: "The United States and Israel raised hopes Thursday for a restart of the Middle East peace process, despite little tangible progress so far from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's two-month-old effort to get Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table."
Reuters: "An envoy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un told a senior Chinese leader on Thursday that North Korea is willing to take China's advice to start talks to resolve tension on the Korean peninsula, China's state television reported."
The Washington Post on Ibragim Todashev, the associate/acquaintance of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whom an FBI agent shot & killed in Orlando yesterday. "Law enforcement officials said Todashev ... was being interviewed about his possible role in a triple slaying in Waltham, Mass., in September 2011. They said Todashev acknowledged involvement in the killings and also implicated Tsarnaev in what the law enforcement officials described as a drug deal that went bad."
Reuters: "Public defenders representing James Holmes, accused of killing 12 moviegoers in Colorado last summer, will return to court on Thursday to challenge the state's insanity defense law in a bid to try to avoid the death penalty for their client. Lawyers representing Holmes, 25, are challenging Colorado's capital punishment statute on several fronts, and on Thursday are arguing that it unconstitutionally bars him from calling his own mental health experts at sentencing if he refuses to cooperate with court-appointed psychiatrists."
AP: "The nation's record-low teen birth rate stems from robust declines in nearly every state, but most dramatically in several Mountain States and among Hispanics, according to a new government report. All states but West Virginia and North Dakota showed significant drops over five years. But the Mountain States of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Utah saw rates fall by 30 percent or more.... Hispanic women have been part of that trend, possibly due to the economy and to illegal immigration crackdowns in some states that reduce the number of young Hispanic females entering the country from Mexico and other nations, said John Santelli, a Columbia University professor of population and family health."
AP: " A government investigation found that 'extremely' poor quality construction materials and a series of violations caused the collapse of a garment factory building in Bangladesh that has been called the worst garment-industry disaster in history.... The report found that building owner Sohel Rana had permission to build a six-story structure and added two floors illegally.... The report also said the building was not built for industrial use and the weight of the heavy garment factory machinery and their vibrations contributed to the building collapse."
New York Times: "Boy Scout leaders from around the country, engulfed in a culture war over homosexuality, gathered for a vote [in Grapevine, Texas,] Thursday on a landmark proposal that would permit openly gay youths — but not openly gay adult leaders — to participate in scouting."
Wednesday, May 22, 2013.
Boston Globe: "A Chechen man with ties to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot and killed by an FBI agent in Orlando early today when the man attacked the agent, the FBI said in a statement. The FBI identified the person shot and killed as Ibragim Todashev, 26. According to the FBI and local news accounts, the shooting took place in an apartment building on Peregrine Avenue while Todashev was being questioned about the bombings and Tamerlan Tsarnaev." ...
... Update: the Orlando Sentinel's report is here.
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New York Times: A Swedish study "associate[s] antidepressant use during pregnancy with an increased incidence of autism in exposed children."
2:00 pm ET: President Obama speaks on counterterrorism policies
If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.
AP: "When high school student Zach Sobiech learned he didn't have much longer to live, his mother suggested he write letters to tell his loved ones goodbye. Instead, the Minnesota teenager turned to writing music — and his farewell song, 'Clouds,' became a YouTube sensation that has attracted more than 4 million views. Other musicians have covered the tune, and it inspired a celebrity video on YouTube. 'Clouds' was even listed No. 1 on the iTunes Top 10 list on Wednesday — two days after Sobiech died after battling bone cancer.... 'You don't have to find out you're dying to start living,' Sobiech said in a short video about him titled, 'My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech,' which also has been viewed more than 4 million times since it was posted to YouTube two weeks ago.
Politico's Late Nite Jokes:
New York Times: "On the program she invented, on the network where she worked for the past 37 years, on the medium where she broke barriers and rules for more than 50 years, Barbara Walters will announce on Monday morning, definitively and with no regrets, that she is calling it a career." ...
... ** UPDATE. Alex Pareene of Salon: Walters "is a national icon and a pioneer, and probably as responsible as any other living person for the ridiculous and sorry state of American television journalism. She has announced her retirement a year in advance, so that a series of aggrandizing specials can be produced celebrating her long and storied career. So let’s get things started off right, by reminding everyone how her entire public life has been an extended exercise in sycophancy and unalloyed power worship."
Margalit Fox if the New York Times on "Alice Kober, an overworked, underpaid classics professor at Brooklyn College," who "working quietly and methodically at her dining table in Flatbush, helped solve one of the most tantalizing mysteries of the modern age."
The Kids are All Right. Elspeth Reeve of the Atlantic: contra Time magazine's cover story "The Me Me Me Generation," young people of every generation are more narcissistic than older people. A mighty fine takedown. ...
... AND, as Marc Tracy of The New Republic writes, " Time and [the story's author Joel] Stein reveal themselves to be guilty of taking culturally and ethically specific ideas about how people should live their lives as normative facts.... It is an unrigorous application of pre-existing biases, taking those biases for gospel. It is typical not so much of Gen Xers or baby boomers but of, simply, old people. Stein’s article is dressed up as objective description, which hides the fact that most of it — to paraphrase a boomer icon — is just, like, his opinion, man."
Britain's Prince Harry has tea at the White House:
... AND he isn't a complete goof: Yahoo! News: "Prince Harry made a visit to Capitol Hill yesterday to tour an exhibit on landmines, a cause dear to the heart of his late mother Princess Diana, and inadvertently won the hearts of flocks of female admirers who followed him to the exhibit. The CEO of the HALO Trust, the charity that organized the Capitol Hill exhibit, told Power Players that Prince Harry 'is really carrying on that mantle' of his mother’s work by bringing public attention to the cause."
A Tale of Two Spocks. And one kind of auto ad: Zachary Quinto vs. Leonard Nimoy: "The Challenge"
Perhaps it's in bad taste to put an obituary of a beloved mother in the Infotainment section. But still. ...
... Forrest Wickman of Slate: "Margaret Groening, mother of Simpsons creator Matt Groening, died peacefully at age 94 recently. She is survived by the longest running sitcom in American television, much of which she and her family helped inspire." Read the whole thing.
Washington Post: "The first plane that can fly day and night powered only by the sun on Friday began a transcontinental journey that will reach Washington by mid-June." ...
... AP Update: "The Solar Impulse — considered the world's most-advanced sun-powered plane — set down about 12:30 a.m. [Saturday, May 4,] at Sky Harbor Airport [in Phoeniz, Arizona], completing part of a journey that its pilot described as a 'milestone' in aviation history."
Alex Pareene of Salon: "Howard Kurtz comes out as illiterate." ...
Dylan Byers of Politico: "The Daily Beast is dropping Howard Kurtz, the veteran media critic who made headlines this week for his erroneous report about NBA star Jason Collins.... The decision comes after Kurtz published a blog post that falsely asserted that Collins, who announced he was gay in an article for Sports Illustrated, had neglected to mention his previous engagement to a woman. In fact, Collins mentioned that engagement in the article and in a subsequent interview with ABC News." ...
... Update: "... CNN also announced that Kurtz’s longtime weekend media criticism show, 'Reliable Sources,' was under review." CW: It's a rare day that a fawning, phony VSP goes "under review."
... The Daily Beast: "The Daily Beast has retracted a May 2, 2013, blog post by Howard Kurtz titled 'Jason Collins’ Other Secret.' The piece contained several errors, resulting in a misleading characterization of NBA player Collins...." ...
... CW: I'm not sure why Collins would be expected to tell people he was once engaged to a woman. This is only going to call attention to the woman & might embarrass her. His past & present personal relationships are his own business. He chose to share the information, but I don't see that it was a necessary element to his coming-out. Kurtz is just an all-around idiot. ...
... AND, yeah, Howie's video -- which everybody says is awful -- is really awful. BuzzFeed has it here. Evidently, Howie is unaware that many people who are gay have carried on long heterosexual relationships, have married opposite-sex people and have had children with them -- before they came out. There is nothing even remotely unusual about Collins' having carried on a long-term relationship with a woman. Kurtz is just an all-around idiot.
New York Times: "Archaeologists excavating a trash pit at the Jamestown colony site in Virginia have found direct evidence of the cannibalism that had long been known to have occurred among the desperate population. Cut marks on the skull and skeleton of a 14-year-old girl show her flesh and brain were removed, presumably to be eaten by the starving colonists during the harsh winter of 1609."
Space.com: "The best view of Saturn available to Earth dwellers in six years should be on Sunday (April 28), with the planet reaching its opposition point, when Earth lies directly between it and the sun. You can watch the celestial show live online via the Slooh Space Camera, which will be broadcasting a feed from its telescopes in Spain's Canary Islands. You can watch the Saturn webcast live on SPACE.com beginning at 9:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday (0130 GMT Monday)."
See Will Shakespeare Spin. "Thou Protestes Too Much." Or Something. Michele Bachmann plays Queen Gertrude, the mother of Prince Hamlet: