The Ledes

Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to Israel on Wednesday, as he pressed his effort to forge a cease-fire to bring a halt to the bitter fighting in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Kerry’s plane touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport just a day after the United States Federal Aviation Administration suspended American civilian flights to Israel." ...

... Guardian: "International airlines halted flights to and from Israel indefinitely on Tuesday citing security concerns in an unexpected twist to the two-week-old conflict in Gaza." ...

     ... CW: Guess that puts something of a damper on the Summer Vacation Insurance Theory of War. ...

... Washington Post: "As Israel pummels Hamas’s infrastructure inside Gaza, it is also trying to prevent attacks originating from the West Bank and Israel — by obliterating the houses of the relatives of Palestinians who allegedly have harmed Israelis. In doing so, Israel’s military has returned to a controversial policy of punitive demolitions that has displaced thousands of Palestinians over the years."

Washington Post: "Two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down Wednesday over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in the same vicinity as a Malaysian airliner that was downed last week, Ukrainian officials said." ...

... Time: "U.S. intelligence resources tracked the 'specific missile' that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a senior Administration official said Tuesday, saying intelligence adds up to a picture that 'implicates Russia' in helping to bring down the plane." ...

... Washington Post: "The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

Washington Post: "The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday afternoon ordered U.S. carriers to stop flying to or from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, prohibiting them from traveling through Israel’s largest airport after a rocket landed nearby."

Reuters: "Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and U.N. diplomats pursued talks on halting fighting that has claimed more than 500 lives. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks in neighboring Egypt, while U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was due to arrive in Israel later in the day. Both have voiced alarm at mounting civilian casualties."

New York Times: "A train carrying the bodies of victims from the Malaysia Airlines jet downed by a missile last week arrived Tuesday morning in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv after a 17-hour journey out of lawless territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels." ...

... New York Times: "A piece of wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 that was shot down in eastern Ukraine last week bears telltale marks of small pieces of high-velocity shrapnel that apparently crippled the jet in flight. Riddled with these perforations and buffeted by a blast wave as it flew high above the conflict zone, the plane then most likely sheared apart."

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.

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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:

Whole Food Business Model: We Cheat You, But Not so Much You'll Notice. Shan Li of the Los Angeles Times: "Whole Foods Market is paying $800,000 in penalties after an investigation found the supermarket chain overcharged customers throughout California. During a yearlong investigation, state and local inspectors found the Austin, Texas, grocer charged more than advertised for a wide range of food products, according to a statement from the Santa Monica city attorney's office. Problems included failing to deduct the weight of containers when ringing up fresh food, putting smaller amounts into packages than the weight stated on the label, and selling items by the piece instead of by the pound, as required by law, the statement said.... 'Based on a review of our own records and a sampling of inspection reports .... our pricing on weighed and measured items was accurate 98% of the time,' the company said in a Tuesday statement." ...

... CW: Besides, if you shop at Whole Foods -- at no charge to you -- you can learn that unions are like herpes, ObamaCare is a form of fascism & climate change is "perfectly natural."

Teenaged curiosity about sex is quite natural, but it can be a bummer.The Vagina Dialog. Turned out to Require a Large Cast of Supporting Characters. Jen Kirby of New York: "An American student studying abroad in Germany captured the world's attention yesterday by achieving the remarkable feat of getting himself stuck in a giant vagina sculpture and needing 22 firefighters to rescue him. But Fernando de la Jara, the artist behind the now-infamous work, took it all in stride.... 'It's participatory art,' de la Jara said. 'It should be entered.'"

 

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Euro-African Trip - July 2009

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New York Times report on the President's day in Ghana.

President Obama speaks after he & his family toured Cape Coast Castle, a slave-holding & -trading fort on the Ghanian Coast:

AFP: President Obama and his family visited the Cape Coast, Ghana, castle that was once a slave-trading fort.

 

President Obama's speech before the Ghanaian Parliament. The audio here, which I obtained from the White House, is MUCH BETTER than the audio on the satellite videos. However, President Obama doesn't begin speaking until 24 minutes in. You can click the audio forward (pause between clicks) -- this was a wonderful speech & well worth the effort.

Reuters reports on President Obama's speech before the Ghanaian Parliament. Politico's report is here. And here's the BBC's transcript of key excerpts from the speech. The Washington Post has the full transcript.

AP: Presidents Obama & Mills speak during a joint press availability.

Here's a very newsy pool report.

BBC News report on the President Obama's visit to Ghana with updated video.

BBC News reports on the Obamas' arrival in Ghana & their schedule for Saturday. AP story here. South Africa Mail & Guardian story here. London Telegraph story here.

This one's pretty good, too; the voiceover is in Italian, but the announcer is just relating what's going on, most of which is self-evident. The documents on the tray are copies of the Pope's new encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" -- "True Charity":

The Obamas give the Pope a stole belonging to Bishop John Neumann, sainted in 1977, and they also brought him a letter from Sen. Edward Kennedy. Pool report here.

Washington Post: in the "frank" and "cordial" discussion, Pope Benedict stressed his opposition to abortion & stem-cell research; a spokesman for President Obama said the President "was eager to listen to the Holy Father."

AP: President Obama has concluded his first meeting with Pope Benedict XVI; the First Lady joined them toward the end of the meeting.

More Catholic than the Pope. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, writing in Newsweek: "Obama's agenda is closer to [American Catholics'] views than even the pope's."

President Obama held a press conference following the G-8 meetings. AP report here.

President Obama's full remarks at the end of the G-8 summit:

Reuters: in the final G-8 session, African leaders ask the developed nations to honor their past pledges of aid; also request new funding for an agricultural program. AP Update of this story: G-8 leaders launch $15 billion global food initiative.

President Obama discusses the results of G-8/G-5 talks on energy & climate control:

Here's the G-S Leaders' statement on energy & climate.

New York Times: developing nations, led by China & India, refuse to commit to heat-trapping emission standards. Without the participation of the developing countries, "no climate deal will be effective."

A President Who Can Handle More than One Summit at a Time. CBS News: from the G-8 Summit in Italy, President Obama phones the Flu Preparedness Summit at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

BBC News: President Obama chairs a key session Thursday morning in which G-8 leaders will try to push leaders of emerging nations to take steps to limit global warming.

AP: G-8 leaders open up their meeting Thursday to the "Group of Five" fastest developing market countries — Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa -- to try to secure their cooperation in dealing with global economic problems.

Jake Tapper of ABC News: President Obama & Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva -- a/k/a Lula -- take time out in their one-on-one meeting to rib each other, Lula concentrating on his country's defeat of the U.S. in a big soccer match.

Josh Gerstein of Politico: G-8 issues a weak statement against Iran, little different from earlier statement....

... BUT that's not the party line: Carol Lee of Politico on Wednesday's G-8 dinner meeting & Alexander Burns on Robert Gibbs' remarks.

AP: at the G-8 summit, leaders are drafting an agreement aimed at lowering trade barriers.

The G-8 leaders relax before dinner Wednesday. (CW: I can hear Sarkozy tell Obama, "Don't flatter yourself," which is what gets the laugh, but I can't hear what President Obama said that inspired Sarkozy's quip.):

 

AP: the Obama administration voices support for G-8 greenhouse gas emission control goals.

The G-8 leaders at the roundtable:

White House statement on the L'Aquila Earthquake Zone: U.S. is helping victims. Pool report on President Obama's tour, with PM Berlusconi, of the quake zone.

NBC News on President Obama's tour of earthquake-ravaged l'Aquila.

ANSA: Italian First Lady Clio Napolitano & Rome's First Lady Isabella Rauti Alemanno speak highly of Michelle Obama.

G-8 first spouses dined on a terrace of the Capitoline Museum as the guests of Isabella Rauti Alemanno, the wife of Rome's mayor. Here's the pool report by the Washington Post's Robin Givhan, & it's pretty funny.

Also, here's some dish on the first ladies' itinerary from Nick Squires of the London Daily Telegraph.

Herding cats world leaders; raw video:

Here's the pool report on President Obama's arrival in L'Aquila.

Time: President Obama sidesteps Berlusconi scandals by beginning his visit to Italy with a call on Italy's "largely ceremonial" president, Giorgio Napolitano.

Politico summarizes President Obama's brief remarks at a joint press availability with President Napolitano. I couldn't find a transcript or a video except this one with an Italian translator speaking over the President. Here's the pool report.

Raw video of the Obamas arriving at the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome:

AP: the three-day G-8 meeting in l'Aquila, Italy, will tackle climate change, global economy. BBC News report here; China's President Hu Jintau leaves the summit because of civil unrest in Western China.

New York Times: the Obamas dined at Moscow's Ritz-Carlton last night, enjoying some downtime before traveling to Italy.

Here's an informative pool report on the President's meetings with the Civil Society group & the oppo leaders.

Transcript: President Obama's opening remarks at a meeting with Russian opposition leaders (partial).

Transcript: President Obama's remarks at the Parallel Civil Society Summit.

Transcript: President Obama's remarks at the Russian Parallel Business Summit.

Clifford Levy & Ellen Barry of the New York Times: President Obama isn't a rock star in Russia.

President Obama speaks at the New Economic School in Moscow:

The text of the President's speech at the New Economic School.

Michael Shearer of Time: President Obama gets personal in his comments on democracy & universal rights.

New York Times: in a speech at Moscows's New Economic School, President Obama says the U.S. & Russia share many common interests.

Interfax: President Obama met with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow, & Gorbachev attended the speech President Obama gave at the New Economic School.

 

President Obama comments during a photo-op with Russian PM Putin. Raw video:

Here's the full joint press conference called by Presidents Obama & Medvedev.

Here's the transcript.

AP: Presidents Obama & Medvedev agree to preliminary guidelines for reducing nuclear weapons stockpiles. New York Times story here.

AP: Michelle Obama & daughters Malia & Sasha tour the Kremlin.

Presidents Obama & Medvedev meet in the Kremlin:

CBS/AP story on President Obama's arrival in Moscow. New York Times story here.

President & Mrs. Obama at the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:

BBC: President Obama has arrived in Moscow.