Monday, November 12, 2012

11/12/2012 - NYT: “We suffer from an overabundance of Puritanism mixed with hypocrisy,” - Marina Ein

 “We suffer from an overabundance of Puritanism mixed with hypocrisy,” - Marina Ein

On Friday, Mr. Petraeus walked in Hamilton’s footsteps, saying he “showed extremely poor judgment” and calling his behavior unacceptable.
By resigning, he took what seems to be the preferred course of action after such revelations; most politicians either quit or are ousted by voters. Senator Vitter, who continues in Congress, is the rare exception.
Whether resignation is always necessary — or even wise — is another matter. “We suffer from an overabundance of Puritanism mixed with hypocrisy,” Marina Ein, a publicist and observer of Washington life, wrote Friday in an e-mail interview. “Petraeus is an unbelievably talented and dedicated professional.”
Ms. Ein once was press secretary to Representative Gary Condit of California, whose own relationship with an office intern who was later murdered led to his losing in a primary.
Hamilton went on to be lionized as one of the republic’s greatest statesmen. Adulterer or not, Kennedy was recently rated the best of the nine most modern presidents, Mr. Dallek said.
“You can’t get away with it now,” he said. “But the public seems to discount these things.”
Political Memo

With Digital Trail, an End to the Hushed Affair

Alexander Hamilton, Warren Harding, F.D.R., Ike, L.B.J., Representatives Mark Souder, Chris Lee and Anthony Weiner, Senators Gary Hart, John Ensign and David Vitter. Maybe a first lady, Grace Coolidge. And now, David H. Petraeus.
Private Affair, Public Servant
Competing pressures in dealing with the Petraeus affair. | Afghan animosity toward the American military rises. | Mining in Mozambique leaves the rural poor behind.
Timeline Shows F.B.I. Discovered Affair in Summer
Agents recognized the stakes, but were wary of exposing a private affair with no criminal or security implications.


The New York Times

November 11, 2012

The Foreign Policy Agenda

National security didn’t play heavily in the presidential election. But President Obama’s legacy, and the country’s future, will be shaped as much by the foreign policy and defense decisions he makes over the next four years as by those on the domestic side.
One of Mr. Obama’s singular contributions has been his vision of a world without nuclear weapons. It is a lofty goal that won’t be achieved in his second term, or maybe for years after that. But it offers a framework for reducing America’s stockpile and for arguing credibly that other countries should follow suit.
In 2010, Mr. Obama won Senate ratification of a treaty with Russia that makes modest cuts in deployed long-range nuclear weapons. It is time to pursue further reductions in those deployed systems, and to seek cuts in warheads held in reserve and in short-range nuclear weapons, where Moscow has a big advantage. Nuclear arms are one area in which the ability of Washington and Moscow to work together is essential. If Mr. Obama can draw the other nuclear powers, including China, Pakistan, India and Israel, into the discussions and persuade the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, so much the better.
The end of the campaign season might reduce the dangerous partisan posturing over Iran’s nuclear program. Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency are to resume talks next month, but any diplomatic solution will at some point require direct negotiations between Washington and Tehran. Meanwhile, international sanctions, which have seriously damaged Iran’s economy, need to be rigorously enforced and strengthened.
American military commanders are expected to recommend a timetable soon for withdrawing forces from Afghanistan. After a decade of American blood spilled there, President Obama should declare that the schedule will be dictated only by the security of the troops, and the withdrawal should take no more than a year.
Mr. Obama’s policies have severely weakened Al Qaeda, but extremism is growing in many regions, like North Africa and Pakistan. Dealing with that challenge will likely become harder, as will the choices Mr. Obama must make. For one thing, he will have to examine whether the expanding use of drones is the right approach.
As for the Arab Spring countries, Mr. Obama has been wise to recognize that Washington cannot dictate their democratic evolutions. But he should be more engaged, offering more assistance to Islamic leaders who need to build their economies quickly while reminding them that American support will be calibrated based on their commitment to human rights and the rule of law.
He should continue to resist calls for American military intervention in Syria, but he should search for ways to keep fortifying the opposition in that civil war, especially since the factions there now seem to be unifying.
Many are pessimistic that anything can be done about an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal as long as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in office and Palestinians are divided between Fatah and Hamas. It would be a mistake for Mr. Obama to cross this challenge off his list. He needs to keep seeking openings to promote the two-state solution.
Mr. Obama is expected to use his second term to deepen engagement with Asia to protect American military interests and ensure American access to economic opportunities in that region. This could be a challenge given the coming change of leadership in Beijing.
It is an inexhaustible list. Mr. Obama put major new or controversial initiatives on hold this year while the campaign was under way. Now he has two years before another election season impedes his ability to get things done. He needs to decide on his priorities and act while he has the political space and capital to do so.
 BBC Fallout Spreads as More Executives Step Aside
The crisis over the BBC’s reporting of an abuse scandal deepened as two executives withdrew from their jobs.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NYT: Georgia PM Visits Europe to Dump 'Russia Stooge' Tag


NYT: Allen Dulles: "We can let the work cover the romance, and the romance cover the work”

The New York Times

November 10, 2012

When a C.I.A. Director Had Scores of Affairs

Allen Dulles

WALKING through the lobby of the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va., after handing in his resignation on Friday, David H. Petraeus passed a bas-relief sculpture of Allen Dulles, who led the agency in the 1950s and early ’60s. Below it is the motto, “His Monument Is Around Us.”
Both men ran the C.I.A. during some of its most active years, Dulles during the early cold war and Mr. Petraeus during the era of drone strikes and counterinsurgency operations. And both, it turns out, had high-profile extramarital affairs.
But private life for a C.I.A. director today is apparently quite different from what it was in the Dulles era. Mr. Petraeus resigned after admitting to a single affair; Allen Dulles had, as his sister, Eleanor, wrote later, “at least a hundred.”
Indeed, the contrast between Dulles’s story and that of Mr. Petraeus reflects how fully the life of public servants has changed in the United States.
Dulles ran the agency from 1953 to 1961, and he had a profound effect on the America’s role in the cold war. Together with his brother, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, he exercised enormous power and helped overthrow governments from Iran to Guatemala to Congo.
He was also a serial adulterer. Dulles was married in 1920, but he and his wife, Clover, had a difficult home life. She was sensitive and introverted, while he was handsome and charming — and a skilled seducer.
His affairs were legendary. The writer Rebecca West, asked once whether she had been one of his girlfriends, famously replied, “Alas, no, but I wish I had been.”
For most of the 1920 and ’30s, Dulles worked with his brother at the Wall Street law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell. He often took extended foreign trips, and the letters he wrote home to Clover were full of references to other women that could at best be read as insensitive, at worst as taunting.
In one he wrote of a night out with “an attractive (not beautiful) Irish-French female whom I took to Scheherazade, where we stayed until the early hours.” In another, the subject was a “rather good-looking” English woman with whom he “danced and drank champagne until quite late.”
Other women he reported meeting included “a charming widow,” “a most pleasant companion,” “a young English damsel,” “a very delightful person” and “a sensible soul, also by no means ugly.”
After one Atlantic crossing he proudly wrote to Clover that “on the whole I have kept rather free from any entanglements, and in particular there have been no ladies on board with whom I have particularly consorted.”
As if to pour salt in her emotional wounds, Dulles wrote in another letter that he didn’t “deserve as good a wife as I have, as I am rather too fond of the company of other ladies.”
During World War II, Dulles ran American espionage operations in neutral Switzerland. Soon after arriving in Bern, he found a mistress, Mary Bancroft, a dynamic woman of the world who had grown up on Beacon Hill in Boston under the wing of her doting step-grandfather, C. W. Barron, publisher of The Wall Street Journal.
Dulles hired Bancroft to write political analysis, but there was little doubt where his interest lay.
“We can let the work cover the romance, and the romance cover the work,” he told her as they began their affair.
By her own account, Bancroft developed “overwhelming admiration for his abilities” and fell “completely in love” with him. Later Dulles introduced her to his wife. Somehow, they became close friends. “I can see how much you and Allen care for one another, and I approve,” the wife told the mistress.
Dulles was 60 years old when he took over the C.I.A., and had slowed down a bit. Nonetheless, he was rumored to have become familiar with one of the highest-profile women of the era, Clare Booth Luce, the wife of Henry R. Luce, the publisher of Time and Life (who in turn was said to be keeping company with Mary Bancroft).
Another of Dulles’s conquests, according to several accounts, was Queen Frederika of Greece. In 1958 she came to the United States on a tour with her son, the future King Constantine II, and just as her trip was about to end, she announced without explanation that she would stay for another week.
She came to Washington, discussed “spiritual values” with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Oval Office and then visited Dulles at C.I.A. headquarters.
They had been alone in his office for nearly an hour when an aide knocked. Hearing no response, he entered. He found the office empty, but heard noises from the adjoining dressing room. Later Dulles and the queen emerged.
As she was being driven back to the Greek Embassy, the queen suggested one reason Greek-American relations were so strong. “We just love that man!” she exclaimed.
Dulles’s behavior was well known in Washington and elsewhere, but never publicly reported. By the journalistic codes of the 1950s, it was not newsworthy.
The same code applied to Dulles’s superiors. Presidents Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy entrusted the security of the United States to him. What Dulles did in his private life, even when it intersected with his public role, was considered none of their business.
Allen Dulles, who died in 1969, may have been, as one biographer claimed, “the greatest intelligence officer who ever lived.” Yet by today’s standards, this master spy would not have been allowed even to join the C.I.A., much less lead it.

Stephen Kinzer, a former correspondent for The New York Times, is the author of the forthcoming book “The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War.”


 Biographer’s E-Mails to Woman Led F.B.I. to Petraeus Affair
A harassment complaint against Paula Broadwell led F.B.I. agents to e-mails that revealed her affair with David H. Petraeus, who resigned as C.I.A. director.

A Brilliant Career With a Meteoric Rise and an Abrupt Fall

Before he resigned Friday as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, David H. Petraeus had seemed all but indestructible.
Political Memo

With Digital Trail, an End to the Hushed Affair

Affairs are nothing new among Washington’s powerful, but in the digital age, it is nearly impossible to keep them from becoming splashy political scandals.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

11.7.12 - Tech - "Time" - Galaxy Note II Review

Galaxy Note II Review: How Samsung Sold Me on Humongous Phones

Jared Newman /
There was a time when I thought 4 to 4.3 inches was the ideal screen size for a smartphone. This was before Apple upsized its iPhone 5, but after other phone makers had starting creeping into the 4.7- to 4.8-inch range. It seemed to me that smartphones were getting too big for average-sized hands, and that phone makers had gone mad in a game of “mine is bigger.”
But then I spent a week using nothing but Samsung’s Galaxy Note II, a smartphone-tablet crossover with a whopping 5.5-inch display. It’s been a fun experience, but it’s also tweaked my thinking; now, even 4.8-inch screens seem reasonable, and anything less feels insufferably puny.
Granted, I’d always been accepting of the fact that some people might like phones with gigantic screens. In my review of the original Galaxy Note, which only launched nine months ago on AT&T, I concluded that the phone should find a niche, though I didn’t consider myself part of it. Somehow in the course of using the Note II as my only phone for a week, my feelings have changed.
The fact that the Galaxy Note II is so much better than its predecessor might have something to do with it. This is largely due to the software, which is based on Android 4.1, codenamed Jelly Bean. Smoothness was the main focus for this version of Android, and it really shines on the Note II. Every swipe through the home screen is just as fluid as the iPhone–for a long time the high-water mark of interface fluidity–even with a full array of widgets and an animated wallpaper. I’ll go so far as to say it’s the smoothest Android phone I’ve ever used.
(MORE: Samsung’s Galaxy Note II: U.S. Carriers Show the Phablet Some Love)
Samsung’s hardware probably played a role in the Galaxy Note II’s newfound pep as well. This is one of the first smartphones in the United States with a quad-core processor, and it also has 2 GB of RAM to keep things humming along. I never had any performance issues when watching videos, playing games or just moving from one app to another. Shutter times on the phone’s 8-megapixel camera were practically immediate.
The main attraction, of course, is that gigantic 5.5-inch, 1280-by-720 resolution display. That may sound like a boost over the 5.3-inch, 1280-by-800 resolution display in the original Galaxy Note, but it’s actually more of a shift. The Note II’s display uses a 16:9 aspect ratio, so it’s taller and narrower than the original 16:10 note, and the pixel density (and overall number of pixels) is lower. In the real world, the difference in displays is subtle.

Jared Newman /
When you hold the Galaxy Note II up against any other smartphone, however, the difference is drastic. Compared to the iPhone 5, the Note II provides roughly 0.75 inches more space horizontally, and about 1.25 inches more space vertically. Although the screen resolution is the same as many other high-end Android phones–and the pixel density is lower–there’s still something glorious about the Note II’s roomy display, especially for videos, games and web browsing.
The size of the phone provides another benefit: It leaves room for a big battery. I didn’t do any standardized testing, but when using the Note II regularly for phone calls, browsing, GPS navigation, photography, streaming music and the occasional game or video, I was often able to leave it off the charger for two whole days at a time. It’s hard to imagine any situation where the Note II wouldn’t at least be able to get through a full day of rigorous use, and a 48-hour span is definitely doable.
(MORE: Hands On with Samsung’s Galaxy Note II: Even Bigger Screen, Nicer Pen, More Refinement)
But is the Note II too big to actually carry around? Not for me. I tried it in a variety of jeans pockets, both dressy and casual, and never felt uncomfortable, though the phone can leave a notably large impression (cue the banal jokes). It helps that the Note II is fairly svelte, measuring 0.37 inches thick with a gently curved design. (In terms of looks, it’s similar to the Galaxy S III, with softly rounded edges and a glossy plastic rear panel.)
The biggest problem with the Galaxy Note II is the one that’s inherent to its size: You cannot comfortably use it with one hand. Sure, you can flip through the home screen and scroll through apps with your thumb, but good luck tapping something at the top of the screen, or reaching beyond the home button to either the back or menu buttons (depending on which hand you’re using). A few times, I almost dropped the phone while wrangling with it one-handed. More often, my palm would accidentally tap something on the edge of the screen as I tried to reach across with my thumb. As with the original Note, it’s a tradeoff.

Jared Newman /
Of course, Samsung is still pushing the “S Pen” stylus as a selling point for the Galaxy Note II, and I still think it’s a gimmick. The stylus itself is larger, and therefore easier to use, and the phone includes a few more pen-optimized applications than its predecessor, including a pressure-sensitive version of Sketchbook Mobile. In my normal use, though, it was rarely easier to pull the stylus from its holster than it was to just keep using my fingers. Also, the Note II’s physical back and menu buttons don’t detect the stylus, so even when you’re using it, you’ll still need to tap with your fingers to get around.
I do have a few other nitpicks with the Galaxy Note II’s software, mainly where Samsung tries to overreach with unnecessary features. For instance, the keyboard has a one-handed mode that squishes the keys toward one side of the screen. It’s clever, but too easy to invoke by accident (I’m not even sure how), and once enabled, the only way to turn it off is through the keyboard’s settings menu, as far as I could tell. The keyboard has other frustrations, notably the lack of a dedicated button for voice input–it’s instead combined with the clipboard and other keyboard options in an all-purpose input button–though I did like how number keys are perched above the letters.
Also, Samsung’s shameless Siri clone, known as S Voice, doesn’t bring much to the table. You reach it by double-tapping the home button, but I’d much rather assign that command to regular Google voice search. You can, at least, access Google Now by holding the menu button, but the use of two different voice assistants, one inferior than the other, just adds confusion. At this point, a few bad software decisions here and there are par for the course with Android phones, and the Note II is no different.
Overall, though, the Galaxy Note II is an excellent device, however you want to classify it. In my week with this phone-tablet crossover, I’ve noticed that I’m using my Nexus 7 tablet less, and I’m dreading the idea of going back to the smartphones that I once thought were just the right size. There’s room for a device that straddles the line between both, and Samsung is showing everyone how it’s done.

Read more:


Russia News Review - 11/6/12

via Russia - Google News on 11/6/12

Russia: Lawmaker Asks for Inquiry on Romney Son's Visit
New York Times
A lawmaker appealed to Russia's top prosecutor on Tuesday to investigate the reasons for Matt Romney's recent visit to Moscow, arguing that trip by the son of the Republican presidential nominee had political objectives and was not solely for business.

and more »

via Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty by Heather Maher on 11/6/12
Barack Obama has been reelected to another four-year term. He had told voters that he wanted a chance to "finish what we started" in 2008. That means focusing on the moribund domestic economy, as well as banking reforms, climate change, and the implementation of his universal health-care plan. China, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Asia-Pacific region all look to present their own sets of challenges, too. RFE/RL correspondent Heather Maher reports from Washington.

via Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty by RFE/RL on 11/6/12
U.S. President Barack Obama has won reelection for a second four-year term, defeating Republican rival Mitt Romney and saying he is "more determined and more inspired than ever."

via NYT > Europe by By ALAN COWELL on 11/7/12
World leaders are vying for favor as President Obama embarks on a second term with many major issues unresolved from the first.

via The Moscow Times Top Stories by The Moscow Times <> on 11/6/12
The presidential administration has proposed placing restrictions on governors' use of micro-blogging website Twitter, a news report said Wednesday.

via The Moscow Times Top Stories by The Moscow Times <> on 11/6/12
Boris Kagarlitsky, a co-founder of the Left Front movement, said Wednesday that investigators had raided his home in connection with violent clashes with police at a May 6 opposition protest on Moscow's Bolotnaya Ploshchad.

via The Moscow Times Top Stories by The Moscow Times <> on 11/6/12
President Vladimir Putin has congratulated U.S. President Barack Obama on his re-election, while Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev expressed relief that Russia wouldn't have to deal with Mitt Romney.

via Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty by RFE/RL's Georgian Service on 11/7/12
Two Georgian defense officials have been detained in Tbilisi, a day after the former interior minister was arrested in connection with a prison-abuse scandal.

via Russia - Google News on 11/7/12


Russian scuba divers find shipwrecked Polymetal gold cargo
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian scuba divers have found a sunken cargo ship loaded with 700 tons of gold ore owned by Polymetal International Plc shipwrecked off Russia's Far East coast, the transport ministry said on Wednesday. The dry-cargo freighter ...
Rescuers search for crew of sunken Russian gold ore cargo shipRT
Missing Russian bulker foundThe Voice of Russia
Divers find sunken Russian ship carrying gold oreKyiv Post
RIA Novosti -Malay Mail
all 182 news articles »

11/7/2012 - NYT

via The New York Times's Facebook Wall by The New York Times on 11/6/12
Barack Obama was re-elected to a second term tonight, winning over Mitt Romney in the majority of states considered battlegrounds.

View an in-depth breakdown of state-by-state results:

Obama Wins New Term as Electoral Advantage Holds
Voters returned President Obama to the White House, but he will face a Congress with the same divisions that marked his first term.

via NYT > U.S. by By PETER BAKER on 11/7/12
The next battle for President Obama is to decide what he wants to accomplish in a second term and how to go about it.

via NYT > U.S. by By JODI KANTOR on 11/6/12
President Obama’s victory gives him a second chance to deliver the renewal he still promises, but without a clear mandate, a healthy economy or willing Republican partners.

via NYT > U.S. by By MATT BAI on 11/6/12
The generational shift President Obama embodied is under way, but it will not change Washington as quickly as voters once hoped.

via NYT > Global Opinion by on 11/4/12
What issues would teenagers under 18 want the presidential candidates to focus on?

via NYT > Global Opinion by By JAY STERLING SILVER on 11/6/12
There should be a law to punish bystanders who do nothing to help in an emergency.

via NYT > Global Opinion by on 11/6/12
Afghanistan’s leader, once again, is conjuring up scapegoats and false alarms to divert attention from the challenges facing his country.

via NYT > Global Opinion by By JONATHAN HAIDT on 11/6/12
To solve our problems, we have to understand we face a shared threat.

via NYT > Global Opinion by By THE EDITORS on 11/7/12
Ann Beeson, Thomas B. Edsall, Tim Egan and Alexander Keyssar react to the elections and assess their political and emotional impact.