In awkward obituaries and other politics

"Huh. Apparently the meaning of 'reformer' has also been deflated," concludes Washington correspondent Binyamin Appelbaum with the New York Times, after reading his publication's extremely kind obituary describing the recently deceased King Abdullah as a "cautious reformer" who "nudged Saudi Arabia forward" (11,400+ shares)David Johnson with Al Jazeera America reflects, "The great thing about 'nudges' is they don't ensure outcomes ..."Journalist Omar Waraich notes, "The subheadings in this piece suggest it was a farewell to an austere democrat battling military rule somewhere," then points out, "This apparently counts as major social reform: 'He allowed women to work as supermarket cashiers'." Meanwhile, NYT's Alison Cowan calls out this detail: "Tough Love Saudi-Style: Dad sentenced future King Abdullah to 3 days in prison for not offering his seat to a guest."

Brits are also not very happy to learn that their country will be flying flags half-mast following the king's death (2,800 shares). "Should we ban women from driving for the day too?" wonders Guardian's James Ball. In addition, a statement by Tony Blair on his passing that extols his virtues is "beyond parody" tweets Telegraph's Patrick Sawer. "In fairness to Abdullah (and Blair), by Saudi standards he was a moderate, I guess," defends Alasdair Pal with Reuters. But you can count on The Intercept's Murtaza Hussain to set the record straight with "Tyrant King Misremembered as Man of Peace" (900+ shares).

Like him or not, however, his death triggers a complex succession process. "Will we see a clamp down on modest reforms w/ succession?" worries Middle East reporter Maria Abi-Habib with the Wall Street Journal. "America's closest Arab ally is expected to be led by a 79-yr-old reportedly in poor health & suffering from dementia," details Washington Post's Catherine Rampell. "Not a good start," Graeme Wood of The Atlantic and Pacific Standard reminds everyone.
 
Elsewhere in the Middle East, Iraq together with the U.S. prepares an offensive to retake Mosul from the Islamic State this summer. "Convincing Iraqi leaders to release best from defense of Baghdad for Mosul offensive a challenge," elaborates WSJ's Robert Wall.
 
ABC News boasts an exclusive that Marco Rubio is moving toward a 2016 presidential bid. Still, TIME's Zeke Miller remains unconvinced: "Rubio moves today don't mean he's running. He needed to send a signal to donors to keep the option open." Then: "Who has the chutzpah to allegedly tell Scorsese he wants more control over a biopic the director is making? Guess," prompts WaPo's Philip Bump. Yes, the Scorsese documentary on Bill Clinton is officially stalled
 
In other major headlines, Shaila Dewan pens a devastating investigative takedown on the many errors by Cleveland police. "A community police officer, knowing Tamir Rice, could have saved his life. Cleveland's individual & systemic failures," reacts Times colleague Motoko Rich. And speaking of devastating, here's the impact of vaccine deniers, in one measles chart (41,000+ incredible shares).

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