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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Vice President Biden has been instructed not to do his hilarious Hu's on First routine in front of the President of China. -- Jimmy Kimmel

She's a beauty queen, so right away I hate her. I think she's stealing my act, so that pisses me off. -- Roseanne Barr, on Sarah Palin

What I'm trying to do is help run out the clock. -- Sen. Jim DeMint, December 16, 2010 ...

... We are in session, if necessary, up to January 5th. That is the clock our Republican colleagues need to run out. It's a long clock. -- Sen. Harry Reid

Winning the competition would mean a lot to me.... It would feel like a big middle finger to all the people out there that hate my mom and hate me! -- Bristol Palin, in her classy vernacular way, signaling to tea partiers to keep those phone votes coming ... Palin came in third in the "Dancing with the Stars" finale, behind winner "Jennifer Grey, 50-year-old star of 'Dirty Dancing,' [and] 19-year-old Disney star Kyle Massey."

If Hillary gave up one of her balls and gave it to Obama, he’d have two. -- James Carville

... Update: If I offended anybody, I'm not sorry and I don't apologize. -- James Carville ...

They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive. -- Roger Ailes, Fox "News" CEO, referring to NPR executives

At one point, Gibbs literally had his foot lodged in the closing front door, asking if the Indian security officials pushing hard to shut it were going to break his foot. -- Pool Report

It's All about Bill. Where is the love? I ought to be the tea party's poster child. -- Bill Clinton, November 1, 2010

Putting the American people back to work ... is the moral and national challenge of our time It is too important for pure partisanship or blind ideology. -- Barack Obama

To paraphrase my friend, Deval Patrick, the last election was a changing of the guard -– now we've got to guard the change. -- Barack Obama

Their message is: Whatever it is that Obama was for, we'll be against. We'll try to roll back health care. We'll try to roll back financial regulatory reform. And all those folks who were financing these third parties all across the country, all those special interests, they're going to be looking to be able to write the rules again, if these folks are back in power. -- Barack Obama, on Republicans & their backers

I can't spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead. -- Barack Obama

We have a lot of kids on the ground acting like adults and we have a lot of adults in this room acting like kids. -- Barack Obama, to his military advisors, for their petty infighting

Something that is beyond man is happening. America today begins to turn back to God. -- Glenn Beck ...

The March on Washington changed America. Our country reached to overcome the low points of our racial history. Glenn Beck's march will change nothing. -- Eleanor Holmes Norton

If you have some better suggestions about how to stabilize Social Security instead of just babbling into the vapors, let me know.... We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits! Call when you get honest work! -- Alan Simpson, co-chair of the President's deficit commission, to the Older Women's League

A significant portion of the money that belongs in Delaware and New York and Georgia ... resides right here. -- Joe Biden, eulogizing Sen. Ted Stevens

I think Republicans are going to get the House back. -- independent prognosticator Charlie Cook, on the November elections

Maybe what he found was it was harder being George Bush than he thought. He now owns a war and an environmental disaster. -- Martha's Vineyard vacationer Karl Sternberg, on President Obama

There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. -- Newt Gingrich ...

... There will be a mosque in Rome, only when a Roman Catholic church is permitted in Mecca. -- Benito Mussolini (via Ben Smith; see his notes on sourcing) Update: see Smith's further post on the Mussolini citation, which is almost certainly apocryphal

I wish we had been able to obstruct more. -- Mitch McConnell

Obstruct more? Is that even possible? -- Barack Obama

They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality. They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president. -- Robert Gibbs, on what he calls "the professional left"

Proposition 8 cannot withstand any level of scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause.... Excluding same-sex couples from marriage is simply not rationally related to a legitimate state interest.
-- Judge Vaughn Walker

Calling out the right wing has become a rare commodity among journalists and Democrats. All scurrilous attacks are not equal..., but appealing to racial, religious, and ethnic fears and anger is a prescription for grave danger for our country. -- Howard Dean

It's not like they've engaged in some heavy reflection. They have not come up with a single, solitary new idea to address the challenges of the American people. They don't have a single idea that's different from George Bush's ideas, not one. Instead, they're betting on amnesia. -- Barack Obama, on Republicans

The idea that the average American is overtaxed is a nice piece of populist pandering. In fact, federal taxes as a percentage of the economy are at their lowest level since the Truman administration.
-- Fareed Zakaria

With all due respect -- I don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about what the President's employees say about one thing or another.
-- Nancy Pelosi, on Robert Gibbs' assertion that Democrats could lose the House in November

Modern Conservatism is a disease. If you don't understand that, you're already infected. -- driftglass

The Senate sucks, and I mean it literally. It sucks the energy out of the room and it sucks the urgency out of what we do.... The lack of urgency from the Senate on these jobs bill is soul-crushing.
-- Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va)

We are dealing with extremist, obstructionist, lying hypocrites who think you don't have to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest but are holding up help for the neediest. -- Rep. Paul Hodes, on Republicans

Unfortunately ... some want Obama to fail, period. And unfortunately, Obama's failure would be the country's failure. In a way, some of them are rooting against the country. They want political power. -- -- Sen. Kent Conrad, on Republicans

Neither a borrower nor a lender be / For loan oft loses both itself and friend / And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. -- Polonius, "Hamlet" by Will Shakespeare ...

... Neither a thinker nor a reader be / For thought oft loses both itself and friend / And reading dulls the edge of Fox TV. -- Sarah Palin Shakespeare, "Ham" by Sam Kennerly <twitter.com/djsamk>

Politics in D.C. have become Seinfeldesque. Fights about nothing.
-- Democratic strategist Chris Lehane

I think having a moratorium on new federal regulations is a great idea. -- John Boehner

You better get down there. -- Barack Obama to Steven Chu, shortly after the Gulf oil spill

George Steinbrenner died yesterday.... Because he was smart enough to die in 2010, there is zero tax liability on the estate tax. -- former baseball player & Sen. Jim Bunning

I don’t appreciate it. I don’t know who this guy is. I’ve never met him before. And he’s saying that we’re going to lose the House.
-- Nancy Pelosi, on Robert Gibbs, according to a source in the caucus

When tax money flows to the nation’s capitol, half stays there, half is wasted and half of it goes to political cronyism. -- Rand Paul (and maybe another half should go to teaching Dr. Paul 4th-grade math. Via Ben Smith)

People would walk by my booth and say ‘TARP, TARP, TARP, TARP!' But when you tried to talk to them about it, they did not know any of the details. They confused TARP and the stimulus plan. They confused TARP and the omnibus bill. They confused TARP and the president's budget. -- Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), who lost his primary race to Tea Party candidates

I thought they'd take Rush Limbaugh. -- Joe Biden, on the spy swap

This fall, I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat. -- LeBron James

The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid. -- U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ...

... Judge Tauro is attempting to hoist conservatives by their own petard, by saying: ‘You like the 10th Amendment? I’ll give you the 10th Amendment! I’ll strike down DOMA!’ -- Law Prof. Jack Balkin

You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap around women for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway, so it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. -- Gen. James Mattis, in 2005. Mattis has been nominated to head CENTCOM

Governor Mitt Romney's hyperbolic attack on the New START Treaty ... repeats discredited objections and appears unaware of arms control history and context. -- Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee

I ain't going anywhere. -- RNC Chair Michael Steele

If Al-Qaeda is down to one hundred men in Afghanistan, at the most, why are we fighting a major war? ... The whole enterprise is Afghanistan feels disproportionate. -- Fareed Zakaria

The Senate is the slowest moving thing since the snail. -- Rep John Dingell

We don't need a state-run media because our media outlets volunteer for the task. -- Glenn Greenwald in Salon

Like all Jews, I was probably in a Chinese restaurant.
--
Elena Kagan, in response to Sen. Lindsey Graham's question, Where were you at [sic.] on Christmas?

You light up the room. -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok), to Elena Kagan

They’re snuffing out the America that I grew up in.... There’s a political rebellion brewing, and I don’t think we’ve seen anything like it since 1776. -- House Minority Leader John Boehner (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review via Politico) AND ...

Ensuring there’s enough money to pay for the war will require reforming the country’s entitlement system. -- John Boehner (CW: i.e., old needy people should pay for the war)

Liberty is not a cruise ship full of pampered passengers. Liberty is a man of war and we are all the crew.  I don't know why I thought of that. -- Sen. John Cornyn, at the Kagan hearing

Whether you're a worker, a pensioner, a small business owner, a woman, a voter, or a person who drinks water, your rights are harder to defend today than they were five years ago. -- Sen. Al Franken, commenting on the activist Roberts Court

This is a change in personnel, but it is not a change in policy.
-- Barack Obama, on replacing Gen. McChrystal with Gen. Petreaus

I am going to maintain silence in every language known to man.
-- Gen. Dwight Eisenhower on President Truman's firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur

I believe that Gen. McChrystal made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment in this case.... I have recalled Gen. Stanley McChrystal to Washington to discuss this in person. -- Robert Gates, on comments by Gen. McChrystal & his staff to Rolling Stone