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Quickies – 11-23-15

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But inside we don’t mind at all…

A few articles you could be reading now instead of playing Pin The Lie On Donald Trump

And as for the idea of the GOP establishment ganging up on him and/or uniting behind another candidate like Rubio, that’s at least as likely to backfire as to work. And even if it works, what’s to stop Trump from then running as an independent?

Indeed. You have a party whose domestic policy agenda consists of shouting “death panels!”, whose foreign policy agenda consists of shouting “Benghazi!”, and which now expects its base to realize that Trump isn’t serious. Or to put it a bit differently, the definition of a GOP establishment candidate these days is someone who is in on the con, and knows that his colleagues have been talking nonsense. Primary voters are expected to respect that?

(click here to continue reading Thinking About the Trumpthinkable – The New York Times.)

 Stuffed Girls Heads

Stuffed Girls Heads

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump refused to rule out a third party bid for the presidency in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Trump has signed, along with other Republicans, a vow to run for the GOP nomination.

But, Trump didn’t discount a third party bid when he was asked on Sunday about efforts to unravel his candidacy by some in the Republican party.

“I’m going to have to see what happens. I will see what happens. I have to be treated fairly,” Trump said. “When I did this, I said I have to be treated fairly. If I’m treated fairly, I’m fine. All I want to do is (have) a level playing field.”

(click here to continue reading Trump (Again) Refuses To Rule Out Independent Bid For The Presidency.)

 These Men Didn’t Take Their Atabrine

These Men Didn’t Take Their Atabrine

None of this is to say that the Mac App Store doesn’t offer some valuable services for users: Automatic updates, easily downloading all your apps to a new Mac, and offering a central clearinghouse for finding apps are just a few of the positives. The latter is a big advantage to those who have come to the Mac from iOS and are used to having a single repository rather than hunting hither and yon for apps. For developers, it provides a single storefront and easy purchasing. 

But given that the Mac is doing tremendously well, setting sales records—even if not approaching the sales volume of iOS devices—and given that Apple takes a 30-percent cut of both iOS and Mac app sales, regardless of the disparate support for the two app stores, it might behoove the company to spend a little time bringing the Mac App Store up to snuff.

(click here to continue reading The Mac App Store: Not gone, but certainly forgotten | Macworld.)

 Ms. Potato Head

Ms. Potato Head

Ever wonder why all those folks in rural, “red” America still vote in droves for the same Republicans who brag about gutting the very social programs keeping them alive?  How someone like Matt Bevin can run a winning campaign in Kentucky based on cutting people’s access to affordable health care? How Republican governors can get away with refusing free Medicaid for their own citizens?  Every election it seems that Democrats end up shaking their heads in dismay as yet another mean-spirited red-state Republican manages to defeat the Democrat by essentially promising to make his own constituents’ lives more miserable.  Afterwards we all intone the familiar refrain which boils down to “these people don’t know any better.”  If only the Democrats had a more effective “message” on the issues, we could surely reach those people who by all strands of logic ought to vote blue, and convince them that Republicans don’t have their interests at heart.

In one of the more insightful articles ever written about what motivates the rural poor to vote Republican, Alec MacGillis, who covers politics for ProPublica,  took a tour through deep red America, asking the same questions. In an Op-Ed for today’s New York Times, MacGillis explains that it’s not all about guns and abortion that drives people in economically-depressed areas to vote Republican. In fact it’s something very basic to human nature, which the GOP exploits at every turn. And Democrats ignore it at their peril. 

(click here to continue reading The Most Important Article You’ll Read Today About The Democratic Party..)


Notice that he’s an admirer of Hitler:

Should have listened to the Austrian chap with the little moustache.

And his avatar, that looks like a modified swastika, is the symbol of the neo-Nazi German Faith Movement.

So there you have it. Donald Trump is posting racist imagery that comes directly from neo-Nazis.

I hope you’re not surprised that a guy like Donald Trump, who continually spouts fascist rhetoric, is attracted to fascist memes posted by neo-Nazis. This is where the right wing has ended up in 2015.

(click here to continue reading We Found Where Donald Trump’s “Black Crimes” Graphic Came From – Little Green Footballs.)

Big Dick
Big Dick

The riveting new documentary The Sunshine Makers chronicles two hippies’ quest to bring LSD to every person in America in order to change the world.  Drugs have yet to save the world, but that didn’t stop Nick Sand and Tim Scully from once believing they might. The former a New York-bred prophet of psychedelics who preached their ability to radically improve humanity, and the latter a Bay Area chemist driven to create global “oneness” through mind-altering substances, they were an odd-couple pair who, in the late ’60s, became notorious for manufacturing and distributing enormous amounts of LSD—including “Orange Sunshine,” the hard-hitting tabs that became so synonymous with the counterculture they were even spoofed on Saturday Night Live. Theirs is a story about the marriage of idealism and criminality, and it’s recounted in amusing and thrilling detail by The Sunshine Makers, Cosmo Feilding-Mellen’s astute documentary (which premiered as part of this year’s DOC NYC festival) about the drugged-out duo.

(click here to continue reading Inside the Plot to Get Every American High on Acid – The Daily Beast.)


Ten anonymous Planned Parenthood patients, along with three Planned Parenthood affiliates, have filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Texas over the state’s attempt to boot the provider out of the joint federal-state Medicaid program.

In court documents, Planned Parenthood argues that Texas’ actions violate the federal Social Security Act, which allows Medicaid patients to choose their own health care provider. According to plaintiffs, Texas’ efforts to block Planned Parenthood from receiving public funds “will cause significant and irreparable harm” to Medicaid patients who “will lose their provider of choice, will find their family planning services interrupted, and in many cases will be left with reduced access to care.”

The lawsuit comes after the Texas health commission’s Office of Inspector General sent a series of letters to Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates informing the provider of their ouster from Medicaid in October.

(click here to continue reading Planned Parenthood Patients Take Texas Back to Court.)


Here’s an interesting factoid about contemporary policing: In 2014, for the first time ever, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than burglars did. …

Officers can take cash and property from people without convicting or even charging them with a crime — yes, really! — through the highly controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture. Last year, according to the Institute for Justice, the Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. That same year, the FBI reports that burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion.

(click here to continue reading Law enforcement took more stuff from people than burglars did last year – The Washington Post.)


Those resolute voices in American public life that continue to deny the existence of a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy argue that “someone would have talked.” This line of reasoning is often used by journalists who have made no effort themselves to closely inspect the growing body of evidence and have not undertaken any of their own investigative reporting. The argument betrays a touchingly naïve media bias—a belief that the American press establishment itself, that great slumbering watchdog, could be counted on to solve such a monumental crime, one that sprung from the very system of governance of which corporate media is an essential part. The official version of the Kennedy assassination—despite its myriad improbabilities, which have only grown more inconceivable with time—remains firmly embedded in the media consciousness, as unquestioned as the law of gravity.

In fact, many people have talked during the past half of a century—including some directly connected to the plot against Kennedy. But the media simply refused to listen. One of the most intriguing examples of someone talking occurred in 2003, when an old and ailing Howard Hunt began unburdening himself to his eldest son, Saint John.

(click here to continue reading Inside the plot to kill JFK: The secret story of the CIA and what really happened in Dallas – Salon.com.)


Inflammation occurs when the body rallies to defend itself against invading microbes or to heal damaged tissue. The walls of the capillaries dilate and grow more porous, enabling white blood cells to flood the damaged site. As blood flows in and fluid leaks out, the region swells, which can put pressure on surrounding nerves, causing pain; inflammatory molecules may also activate pain fibres. The heat most likely results from the increase in blood flow.

The key white blood cell in inflammation is called a macrophage, and for decades it has been a subject of study in my hematology laboratory and in many others. Macrophages were once cast as humble handmaidens of the immune system, responsible for recognizing microbes or debris and gobbling them up. But in recent years researchers have come to understand that macrophages are able to assemble, within themselves, specialized platforms that pump out the dozens of molecules that promote inflammation. These platforms, called inflammasomes, are like pop-up factories—quickly assembled when needed and quickly dismantled when the crisis has passed.

For centuries, scientists have debated whether inflammation is good or bad for us. Now we believe that it’s both: too little, and microbes fester and spread in the body, or wounds fail to heal; too much, and nearby healthy tissue can be degraded or destroyed. The fire of inflammation must be tightly controlled—turned on at the right moment and, just as critically, turned off. Lately, however, several lines of research have revealed that low-level inflammation can simmer quietly in the body, in the absence of overt trauma or infection, with profound implications for our health. Using advanced technologies, scientists have discovered that heart attacks, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease may be linked to smoldering inflammation, and some researchers have even speculated about its role in psychiatric conditions.

(click here to continue reading Medicine’s Burning Question – The New Yorker.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 24th, 2015 at 9:03 pm

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Snippets 11-21-15

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Mystified and Holding On
Mystified and Holding On

More copypasta for your more advanced stage news junkies…please, no gambling.


Famous Nathan (U.S. 2014, 86 minutes)  chronicles the personal and public history of Nathan’s Famous of Coney Island, the iconic Brooklyn eatery and Coney Island institution created in 1916 by filmmaker Lloyd Handwerker’s grandfather Nathan Handwerker. 

The film debuted at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, was awarded Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Coney Island Film Festival and the Audience Award at the 2015 Jewish Film Festival in Berlin.

In 1984, Lloyd started filming interviews with former workers and family members, a journey that took him around the world, as he listened to stories, first-hand accounts, secrets and perhaps a few tall tales. Spanning a century, this Coney Island inspired rollercoaster ride of a film employs a kaleidoscopic blend of home movies, animation, experimental cinema, historic archival, family photos, never-before heard audio recordings of Nathan, and a series of emotional and sometimes hilarious interview ‘encounters’ with the Handwerker family, their tight-knit circle of friends and a group of former Nathan’s employees recounting the dedicated days of ‘hustle and bustle, fast food cooked at nano-second speed.’ A film about labor, family, immigration, and yes, food, Famous Nathan is a vivid testament to a true American success story and the fighting spirit of a consummate New York family-run business.

Nathan Handwerker raised in Jaroslaw, Poland, one of 13 brothers and sisters from a poor Jewish family, came to New York, in 1912, unable to read, write or speak a word of English. By the 1930s, with the love, support and dedication of his wife Ida and sons Murray and Sol, he’d created one of the most beloved places to eat anywhere in the world. For decades, millions flocked to the larger-than life playground known as Coney Island and without a doubt, Nathan’s, on Surf Avenue, was the soul of Coney Island. As the centennial of Nathan’s approaches in 2016, Famous Nathan stands as an intimately personal love letter, thirty years in the making, to parents, grandparents, workers, eaters, and all lovers of Coney Island and Nathan’s Famous.

(click here to continue reading.)


“All of the biggest food companies in the country are looking at how to source non-G.M.O. ingredients right now,” said Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Project, adding that it seems that the government’s decision about the G.M.O. salmon was out of step with what the public is asking for.

Ms. Westgate said that about 34,000 products were now labeled with the Non-GMO Project’s seal, representing about $13.5 billion in annual sales. That’s up from January, when 24,500 products bore the seal. (The Food Marketing Institute estimates that total supermarket sales were $638 billion last year.)

Efforts at the state level over the last few years to mandate labeling of foods that do contain genetically engineered ingredients have largely failed by narrow margins, after heavy lobbying and campaign spending by the food and biotech industries.


(click here to continue reading F.D.A. Takes Issue With the Term ‘Non-G.M.O.’ – The New York Times.)


Air Raid - Chicago - 1942
Air Raid – Chicago – 1942

It seems more than bit odd when you look at the GOP and other assorted right wingers as they heap their criticisms onto President Obama for his alleged lack of adequate action in the war against ISIS. Because when their golden boy George W. Bush was in the White House and progressives criticized the way he prosecuted the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the jerkweeds on the right claimed it was unpatriotic to do so.

I seem to recall that one of the favorite talking points from Republicans and their Fox News lapdogs during the Bush Administration was that it was wrong and even treasonous to criticize the Commander-in-Chief when we had troops in the field.

Here are 10 separate occasions when the right wing tried to claim executive privilege during war:

(click here to continue reading How Quickly They Forget: Here Are 10 Times Conservatives Said It Was Unpatriotic To Criticize POTUS.)

Her teeth were white lies

Her teeth were white lies 

Leaving aside the broader question of whether Wilson’s name should be removed, let’s be clear on one thing: Woodrow Wilson was, in fact, a racist pig. He was a racist by current standards, and he was a racist by the standards of the 1910s, a period widely acknowledged by historians as the “nadir” of post–Civil War race relations in the United States.

Wilson’s racism wasn’t the matter of a few unfortunate remarks here or there. It was a core part of his political identity, as indicated both by his anti-black policies as president and by his writings before taking office. It is completely accurate to describe him as a racist and white supremacist and condemn him accordingly.

(click here to continue reading Woodrow Wilson was extremely racist — even by the standards of his time – Vox.)

Exit, Zimmerman

Exit, Zimmerman 

This weekend marks the centennial of the old Duluth Armory, a once-proud venue that played host to luminaries from Duke Ellington to Johnny Cash.

Located near the waterfront, just across London Road from Leif Erikson Park, the armory today stands vacant and run down, a far cry from its glory years. But as Duluth celebrates the building’s rich past, there’s new hope for its future.

The Minnesota National Guard built the armory in 1915 for military training. It even featured a specially constructed dirt-filled pit in the drill hall for teaching field tactics like digging trenches. But it doubled as a concert hall and civic center. And it quickly attracted world-renowned performers, including Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1920.

As it turned out, Beasy Latto would be one of the last people to see Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens perform. Three days later, after a concert in Iowa, they died in a plane crash, bound for Moorhead, Minn.

Beasy Latto’s friend and classmate Bob Dylan was also at the concert. He recalled that 1959 night nearly four decades later, when he won a Grammy for his album “Time out of Mind.”

“And I just wanted to say, that one time when I was about 16 or 17 years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play at Duluth, the National Guard Armory, and I was three feet away from him, and he looked at me,” Dylan said. “And I just have some kind of feeling, that he was, I don’t know how or why, but I know he was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way.”

(click here to continue reading Long-silent Duluth Armory may hear music once again | Minnesota Public Radio News.)


Back in January, Geoffrey Smith, an assistant professor of early Christianity at the University of Texas, came across one such item: a 1,700-year-old papyrus fragment of the Gospel of John. The starting price? $99, no reserve.

The fragment had six partial lines of text on it, written in Greek. It was John I, 50-51, from the New Testament. And searches in a database of known New Testament manuscripts showed no such artifact — this was a “new” find for the scholarly community.

(click here to continue reading Scholar finds rare New Testament manuscript on eBay priced at $99 | The Verge.) 


The so-called “New Jersey First Act” of 2011 aimed to ensure state government employees actually live in New Jersey full time. Christie sent an initial version of the bill back to the Legislature for technical changes, but said, “ I commend the sponsors for their efforts to increase employment opportunities for New Jersey residents, by ensuring that citizens throughout the state enjoy access to public positions in their communities.” He signed the amended bill in May of that year.

A Christie administration fact sheet says “all employees are covered by the law,” which imposes a strict residency requirement as a condition of continued employment by the state. The fact sheet says residency is defined as meaning “the state (1) where the person spends the majority of his or her nonworking time, and (2) which is most clearly the center of his or her domestic life and (3) which is designated as his or her legal address and legal residence for voting.”

The Christie-backed law explicitly says it covers “state officers” in the executive branch. It says any public official violating the mandate “shall be considered as illegally holding or attempting to hold” a public office. If a person fails to satisfy the residency requirement within any 365-day period, the law says, “that person shall be deemed unqualified for holding the office.” The legislation empowers New Jersey state courts to oust the violator from office if “any officer or citizen” of New Jersey files a formal complaint.

State officials may avoid the law’s requirements, but only if they formally apply for an exemption to a commission comprised of a majority of Christie appointees. That commission has approved roughly 975 such requests, a Politico analysis of state data showed. But it has also rejected requests from employees who want to relocate to neighboring states to live near family members. The Christie administration’s website does not show that Christie applied for an exemption from the law in the last few years.

(click here to continue reading Chris Christie Imposed Strict Residency Requirement, Then Spent Hundreds of Days Out Of State.)


What explains the modern right’s propensity for panic? Part of it, no doubt, is the familiar point that many bullies are also cowards. But I think it’s also linked to the apocalyptic mind-set that has developed among Republicans during the Obama years.

Think about it. From the day Mr. Obama took office, his political foes have warned about imminent catastrophe. Fiscal crisis! Hyperinflation! Economic collapse, brought on by the scourge of health insurance! And nobody on the right dares point out the failure of the promised disasters to materialize, or suggest a more nuanced approach.

Given this context, it’s only natural that the right would seize on a terrorist attack in France as proof that Mr. Obama has left America undefended and vulnerable. Ted Cruz, who has a real chance of becoming the Republican nominee, goes so far as to declare that the president “does not wish to defend this country.”

The context also explains why Beltway insiders were so foolish when they imagined that the Paris attacks would deflate Donald Trump’s candidacy, that Republican voters would turn to establishment candidates who are serious about national security.

Who, exactly, are these serious candidates? And why would the establishment, which has spent years encouraging the base to indulge its fears and reject nuance, now expect that base to understand the difference between tough talk and actual effectiveness?


(click here to continue reading The Farce Awakens – The New York Times.)

In the primaries, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers privately concede that she will lose some votes over her Wall Street connections. They declined to share specific findings from internal polls, but predicted the issue could resonate in Democratic contests in Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Michigan, where many have lost homes and businesses to bank foreclosures.

Mr. Sanders zeros in on Wall Street donations to Mrs. Clinton in an aggressive new television commercial that started running in Iowa and New Hampshire on Saturday: “The truth is, you can’t change a corrupt system by taking its money,” he warns.


Continue reading the main story One of Mrs. Clinton’s most prominent supporters in Ohio, former State Senator Nina Turner, defected to Mr. Sanders this month in part, she said, because she felt he would be tougher on special interests. And some Democratic superdelegates, whose backing is crucial, said Mrs. Clinton’s ties to big banks, and her invocation of 9/11 to defend her ties to Wall Street at the Nov. 14 debate, only made them further question her independence from the financial industry.

“My parents had a saying in Spanish — ‘Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres’ — which means, ‘Tell me who you’re hanging with and I’ll tell you who you are,’” said Alma R. Gonzalez, an uncommitted superdelegate from Florida. “A lot of my Democratic friends feel that way about Hillary and Wall Street.

(click here to continue reading Wall St. Ties Linger as Image Issue for Hillary Clinton – The New York Times.)


Ingrid Bergman, an A-list Hollywood actress, was eviscerated in the tabloids, who painted her as a wanton harlot. The insanity reached a fever pitch when, on March 14, 1950, Senator Edwin C. Johnson (D-CO), a rank moralist who opposed FDR’s New Deal policies, slut-shamed the actress on the Senate floor.

“Mr. President, now that the stupid film about a pregnant woman and a volcano [Stromboli] has exploited America with the usual finesse, to the mutual delight of RKO and the debased Rossellini, are we merely to yawn wearily, greatly relieved that this hideous thing is finished and then forget it? I hope not. A way must be found to protect the people in the future against that sort of gyp,” he proclaimed. Sen. Johnson then proposed a bill wherein movies would be approved for licenses based on the moral compasses of those behind the picture, insisting that Bergman “had perpetrated an assault upon the institution of marriage,” and going so far as to call her “a powerful influence for evil.”  

(click here to continue reading When Congress Slut-Shamed Ingrid Bergman – The Daily Beast.)


A 23-year-old man in Melbourne, Australia, voiced his frustration with Facebook in January, claiming that it had repeatedly deleted his account. The site’s reasoning? Almost certainly the man’s legal name: Phuc Dat Bich. 

If this dude wanted to go viral, he couldn’t have picked a better way. After spending the better part of the year as a sleeper post, Bich’s rant suddenly exploded this week, even becoming a national Twitter trend in the United States.

(click here to continue reading Man named Phuc Dat Bich wants Facebook to stop deleting his account.)


There are not many NBA players who are as well-rounded and multiculturally engaged than the 14-year veteran and two-time champion. Born in Barcelona, arguably the most diverse and cosmopolitan city in Spain, and to two parents who are in the medical field—his mother, Marisa, a surgeon, and father, Agusti, a nurse administrator—Gasol developed a bigger-than-basketball mentality at a young age.

He started taking piano lessons at 8 and could play Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky at 13 (he has a keyboard at his home in Los Angeles). At 11, he wanted to become a doctor, motivated to cure after hearing about Magic Johnson’s HIV-positive announcement in 1991, and later enrolled in medical school at the University of Barcelona where he cut open cadavers. He also speaks Spanish and Catalan, teaches himself French and Italian, reads historical novels and watches documentaries. Oh yeah, he’s also been the Bulls’ bowling and ping-pong champion.

“[My brothers and I] grew up in a very open-minded environment,” said Gasol, who would like to pick up Spanish guitar one day. “Our parents did a great job I think really educating us, with values such as respect, tolerance, honesty, have respect for everyone, the ability to listen. And our school did a great job of teaching us those values.”

(click here to continue reading Global Gasol: Bulls Star Pau Gasol Expands his Palette in Philanthropy and the Arts | NBPA.)



Then the conversation took a turn. “Am I off base suggesting that newspapers stick to print?” someone formerly of the Tribune suggested. He saw advantages in going back to the old ways and he said what they are: “the superiority of print as a reading medium”; its “exclusiveness,” which some advertisers might value; its ability to provide readers with “a calm and uniquely authoritative daily harbor apart from the ceaseless digital crap storm.”

Alan Solomon, also formerly of the Tribune, responded “I heartily agree,” and offered a seven-point plan to put print-only daily journalism back on its feet. “Be prepared to lose millions early,” he advised. But after two decades of desperate investment in digital, Solomon said, newspapers “not only have come up empty but, in most cases, have hastened print’s obsolescence.” He wondered, “Why not redirect all that effort and money in producing a publication that, once again, compels folks to pay attention and pony up?”

The next person to comment was a nonjournalist who spends ample time online yet professed that holding a newspaper in his hands is “the only way I feel I can know what’s happening in the world. . . As newspapers fade out, so will our freedom, I’m convinced.”

(click here to continue reading Commenters urge the Trib to reinvest in print | Bleader | Chicago Reader.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 22nd, 2015 at 11:37 am

Posted in Links

Tagged with ,

Shorties – 11-19-15

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This Man Was Talked To Death
This Man Was Talked To Death

Some extra reading for extra credit…

More than a few times I’ve wondered if I’m absolutely loco, or if I really have something of value to give.” At the other end of the line, Scott Fagan’s voice falls quiet. “At my lowest place, I would go into the library at UCLA and look up ‘Jasper Johns’ and ‘Scott Fagan Record’. It meant a lot to me.”

Fagan’s story is one of extraordinary fortune and disappointment, a tale that takes in abject poverty in the US Virgin Islands, the height of the Greenwich Village folk scene, love, alcoholism, Jasper Johns, the Magnetic Fields and some of the biggest names in music. It is a story that encapsulates the great near-miss of a musical career, and now, somewhat late in the day, the possible glimmer of success. “Forget Rodriguez, forget Searching for Sugar Man,” says Sharyn Felder, daughter of the late Doc Pomus, the legendary songwriter who signed Fagan in 1964. “Scott was so much more. He was cut from a different cloth.”

(click here to continue reading Scott Fagan: the psych-folk singer once tipped to be bigger than Elvis | Music | The Guardian.)

FWIW, i.e., not much, but…

The results of WIU’s 2015 mock election are in, and if you tend to take the mainstream media seriously, the results of that election will more than likely surprise you: Bernie Sanders won the presidency, then the general election… and he did both in a massive landslide.

The WIU mock election, in which thousands of students from multiple schools form parties and caucuses and play out a small-scale election over the course of several days, has Bernie Sanders beating Hillary Clinton in 22 out of 26 primary states; Hillary Clinton survives past Super Tuesday, but loses out before the month of March is concluded.

(click here to continue reading University With 100% Accuracy Record Predicts Bernie Sanders Will Be America’s Next President – Firebrand Left.)

Vive La France

Never even heard of Captagon…

As Syria sinks ever deeper into civil war, evidence is starting to emerge that a brutal and bloody conflict that has left more than 100,000 people dead and displaced as many as two million is now also being fuelled (sic) by both the export and consumption of rapidly increasing quantities of illegal drugs.

Separate investigations by the news agency Reuters and Time magazine have found that the growing trade in Syrian-made Captagon – an amphetamine widely consumed in the Middle East but almost unknown elsewhere – generated revenues of millions of dollars inside the country last year, some of which was almost certainly used to fund weapons, while combatants on both sides are reportedly turning to the stimulant to help them keep fighting.

(click here to continue reading Captagon: the amphetamine fuelling Syria’s civil war | World news | The Guardian.)

Google Wave, remember that? Didn’t last, did it…

What does it say about the technological world in which we live that 92 percent of the people asked could not identify the name of the program they use to access the Web? If other statistics are to be believed, browsing the Web is the primary use of computers today, so that’s saying these people couldn’t name the program they use more than any other.

Worse, some of the answers on the video reveal that they don’t even know what a program is. A number of them identified their browser as “a search engine” and “Google.” When asked which browser he used, one guy said “the big E,” undoubtedly meaning Microsoft Internet Explorer, which has a stylized lowercase letter E as its icon.

When the best someone can come up with is a vague recollection of a program’s icon, it says to me that we’ve entered a “post-literate” technological society, one in which people have lost not just the ability to read and write about a topic, but also the ability to speak about it, all while retaining the ability to use it.

(click here to continue reading Have We Entered a Post-Literate Technological Age?.)


Prosecutors in the Los Angeles suburb responsible for a huge share of the nation’s wiretaps almost certainly violated federal law when they authorized widespread eavesdropping that police used to make more than 300 arrests and seize millions of dollars in cash and drugs throughout the USA.

The violations could undermine the legality of as many as 738 wiretaps approved in Riverside County, Calif., since the middle of 2013, an investigation by USA TODAY and The Desert Sun, based on interviews and court records, has found. Prosecutors reported that those taps, often conducted by federal drug investigators, intercepted phone calls and text messages by more than 52,000 people.

Federal law bars the government from seeking court approval for a wiretap unless a top prosecutor has personally authorized the request. Congress added that restriction in the 1960s, when the FBI had secretly monitored civil rights leaders, to ensure that such intrusive surveillance would not be conducted lightly.

In Riverside County — a Los Angeles suburb whose  court and prosecutors approved almost one of every five U.S. wiretaps last year — the district attorney  turned the job of reviewing the applications over to lower-level lawyers, interviews and court records show. That practice almost certainly violated the federal wiretapping law and could jeopardize prosecutors’ ability to use the surveillance in court.

(click here to continue reading Police used apparently illegal wiretaps to make hundreds of arrests.)


Scary, I’m still waiting for the liberal-leaning, or even socialist-leaning billionaire to emulate the Koch Brothers and their ilk…

The Koch brothers are really going to have to kick their public relations efforts into high gear now to make the latest revelation about their nefarious efforts to acquire the  U.S. system of governance in a hostile takeover look like politics as usual. They have a “secretive operation that conducts surveillance and intelligence-gathering on its liberal opponents, viewing it as a key strategic tool in its efforts to reshape American public life.” No, it’s not April Fool’s Day. They’re really doing this.

The operation, which is little-known even within the Koch network, gathers what Koch insiders refer to as “competitive intelligence” that is used to try to thwart liberal groups and activists, and to identify potential threats to the expansive network. The competitive intelligence team has a staff of 25, including one former CIA analyst, and operates from one of the non-descript Koch network offices clustered near the Courthouse metro stop in suburban Arlington, Va. It has provided network officials with documents detailing confidential voter-mobilization plans by major Democrat-aligned groups. It also sends regular “intelligence briefing” emails tracking the canvassing, phone-banking and voter-registration efforts of labor unions, environmental groups and their allies, according to documents reviewed by POLITICO and interviews with a half-dozen sources with knowledge of the group.

The competitive intelligence team has gathered on-the-ground intelligence from liberal groups’ canvassing events in an effort to assess the technology and techniques of field efforts to boost Democrats, according to the sources. And they say the team utilizes high-tech tactics to track the movements of liberal organizers, including culling geo-data embedded in their social media posts.

(click here to continue reading The Koch brothers have a surveillance program and staff—to spy on liberals.)

 Droppin a G

In a perfect world, all former members of the Bush administration, specifically former President Bush, along with Dick Cheney and the administration’s national security czars, should’ve spent the last several nights sleepless and emotionally crushed with brutal regret and unbelievable remorse by the horrifying events that transpired in Paris. It’s been a rough several days for the so-called Bush Doctrine and the fallacy that the previous White House occupants somehow “kept us safe,” given the pair of news stories that ought to further condemn the Bushes in the eyes of history.

The first story, though not the most heart-wrenching of the weekend, was a report from Politico’s Chris Whipple who, once and for all, confirmed that the Bush team entirely failed to prevent 9/11 in the face of multiple warnings that a “spectacular” attack was being planned for inside the United States. According to Whipple, the CIA and Director George Tenet were aware that an attack was imminent and reported this information to Condoleezza Rice and others inside the White House, where the intelligence was mostly brushed off. This in addition to the dozen or so counter-terrorism warnings originally revealed by author Kurt Eichenwald that came from other al-Qaeda experts in- and outside the White House. Given the sheer volume of actionable intelligence relating to Bin Laden at the time, there’s no excuse whatsoever for failing to prevent the attack, or, at the very least, doing anything about the warnings, even if those actions ultimately failed.

(click here to continue reading The GOP’s deadly, broken history: Why last week’s Paris attacks prove yet again that George W. Bush didn’t “keep us safe” – Salon.com.)

Enough of this nonsense!

Quite interesting analysis

Twenty-four hours after an attack by Da’esh (the organization formerly known as ISIS [1]) on Paris left 129 dead and 352 wounded, the Internet and the airwaves alike have been filled with profound waves of self-serving nonsense and stupidity from left and right alike. Everyone seems to have found a way in which this situation justifies their position – protect the refugees! Exile the refugees! Bomb someone! Stop all bombing of anyone! – and magically, it seems that one of the most complex political situations of our time can be reduced to simple slogans.

Well, I’ve run out of patience with this, so let me seriously discuss what just happened here, and what it tells us. I’m going to talk about three things which have combined to lead to yesterday’s massacre: the refugee crisis, Europe’s Muslim population, and Da’esh. I’ll then talk about a few things which I think have little or nothing to do with what we’re seeing – most importantly, religion and oil – and a few things which do – such as food and water. And finally, we’ll talk about what it’s going to take to fix this, both in the short term and the long term.

Being entirely out of patience right now, forgive me for being particularly blunt. I suspect that, by the end of this, you will be thoroughly offended by my opinions, whether you are American, European, or Middle Eastern, left or right: nobody has behaved well in the lead-up to this.

(click here to continue reading Twenty-four hours after an attack by Da’esh (the organization formerly known as….)

We’ve grown accustomed to Carly Fiorina’s brand of truth-telling. She seems to lie so easily, I don’t even think she knows the difference between fact and fiction at this point. The overarching theme of her Fox and Friends interview today is fearmongering. Rather than rehashing what she said verbatim, I feel it’s important to discuss reality. I’m certain that you’ve heard her put down President Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry plenty of times. She’s so much more capable because she’d be a real Commander in Chief, not a ‘politician.’ You get the gist of her right wing talking points; the ones that are so easily discredited.

(click here to continue reading Carly Fiorina Can’t Stop Lying About The Syrian Refugee Crisis | Crooks and Liars.)

the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is already saying it’s interested in buying it.

The union is considering leaving its home at 600 W. Washington Blvd. and is considering several locations, including the former Drake building at 2722 S. Martin Luther King Blvd.

“We’re looking to move for a lot of reasons, but we’re getting squeezed out,” said Donald Finn, business manager for the union.

(click here to continue reading Electricians’ Union Wants To Buy Shuttered Drake School for Union Hall – Oakland – DNAinfo.com Chicago.)

Non Moving Target
Non Moving Target

The iconic railroad bridge just south of the Kinzie Street Bridge on the North Branch of the Chicago River that almost always is raised was lowered for several minutes this morning for its one truck crossing per year.

The bridge is lowered once a year so that a Hy-Rail truck (a type of pickup truck that can drive on tracks or roads) can go onto the tracks, which officially places the rail line in “active status,” according to Union Pacific spokeswoman Calli Hite.

(click here to continue reading Chicago River Bridge That Allows One Truck Per Year Lowered Thursday – Downtown – DNAinfo.com Chicago.)

Wolf Point
Wolf Point

There Oughta Be A Law
There Oughta Be A Law

and finally, Texas

According to a finalized list of BCCS clinics for the 2016-17 fiscal year, obtained Wednesday by the Observer, at least one area of the state where Planned Parenthood was previously the only BCCS provider still remains without one: McLennan County.

Tonya Capson, health center manager at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Waco, said that in the two months since the fiscal year began September 1, she has received phone calls from at least seven patients who have been diagnosed with cancer and need help enrolling in Medicaid for breast and cervical cancer treatment. Assistance with quick Medicaid coverage is unique to the BCCS program; only a state contracted provider can directly enroll a patient.

“I have to call them back and explain that we are no longer contracted with BCCS and we are no longer able to help with those applications,” Capson told the Observer, adding that Planned Parenthood has directed patients to the state Health and Human Services Commission’s online clinic locator, but has not directly heard from the agency concerning where to send BCCS patients.

(click here to continue reading Planned Parenthood Ouster Leaves Cancer Patients Stranded.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 20th, 2015 at 10:07 am

Posted in Links

Tagged with , ,

Quick Hitters – 11-18-15

without comments


Some additional reading for you, because I care…

Coffee from El Mirador - Cauca, Columbia
Coffee from El Mirador – Cauca, Columbia

Multiple cups of coffee a day linked to lower risk of premature death The health benefits were seen whether people drank caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee.

Researchers have now linked three to five cups of coffee per day to an overall lower risk of premature death, according to a new review of data on more than 200,000 health professionals.

The lowered risk was associated with a moderate amount of coffee, as opposed to those who drink only a cup or two, or no coffee at all, who did not see the health benefits. When researchers adjusted for those who smoke cigarettes, the benefits of all that coffee were even greater.

The idea that coffee can prevent the development of adverse health conditions, as studies just this year have shown it is good for brain health in older people, cancels out liver damage from over-consumption of alcohol, and may improve colon cancer survival.

(click here to continue reading Multiple cups of coffee a day linked to lower risk of death – UPI.com.)


Ben Carson’s remarks on foreign policy have repeatedly raised questions about his grasp of the subject, but never more seriously than in the past week, when he wrongly asserted that China had intervened militarily in Syria and then failed, on national television, to name the countries he would call on to form a coalition to fight the Islamic State.

Faced with increasing scrutiny about whether Mr. Carson, who leads in some Republican presidential polls, was capable of leading American foreign policy, two of his top advisers said in interviews that he had struggled to master the intricacies of the Middle East and national security and that intense tutoring was having little effect.

 “Nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East,” said Duane R. Clarridge, a top adviser to Mr. Carson on terrorism and national security. He also said Mr. Carson needed weekly conference calls briefing him on foreign policy so “we can make him smart.”

(click here to continue reading Ben Carson Is Struggling to Grasp Foreign Policy, Advisers Say – The New York Times.)


Clarridge was pardoned (in the middle of his trial) by President George H.W. Bush in that historic exercise in ass-covering on the way out the door in 1992. After that, he left the CIA and went into business for himself in the shadow world of private spookdom.

Hatching schemes that are something of a cross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy,” Mr. Clarridge has sought to discredit Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar power broker who has long been on the C.I.A. payroll, and planned to set spies on his half brother, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, in hopes of collecting beard trimmings or other DNA samples that might prove Mr. Clarridge’s suspicions that the Afghan leader was a heroin addict, associates say. So, yeah, maybe the Doctor knows what he’s doing here.

(click here to continue reading Ben Carson Lacks Foreign Policy Knowledge – Ben Carson Can’t Grasp Middle East.)

 Cat - Orange

Cats are notoriously picky eaters—and one reason may be that they’re fine-tuned to detect bitterness. Cats can’t taste sweetness, but they have a dozen genes that code for bitter taste receptors. A recent study from researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital finds that at least seven of these bitter taste receptors are functional, indicating that cats are very sensitive to those tastes.

In order to figure out whether the 12 known bitterness receptor genes actually cause cats to taste bitterness, the researchers inserted these genes into human cells and figured out which ones responded to chemicals that cause people to taste bitterness (since cats can’t tell us when something is bitter). 

(click here to continue reading Why Is Your Cat Such a Picky Eater? Blame Bitter Taste Receptors | Mental Floss.)


There’s the president of the United States, and then there’s the person who happens to be the President of the United States.

Bill Clinton served for eight years, but we were always more intrigued by Bill Clinton the Person—a magnetic charmer once described by Chris Rock as “a cool guy, like the president of a record company.” Clinton’s charisma defined his presidency, for better and for worse. He couldn’t always harness it. He couldn’t stop trying to win everyone over, whether it was a 60 Minutes correspondent, 500 powerful donors in a crowded banquet hall, or a fetching woman on a rope line.

If Clinton acted like someone who ran Capitol Records, Obama—both the person and the president—carries himself like Roger Federer, a merciless competitor who keeps coming and coming, only there’s a serenity about him that disarms just about everyone. At one point during the hour I spent interviewing him at the White House this fall, he casually compared himself to Aaron Rodgers, and he wasn’t bragging. Obama identified with Rodgers’s ability to keep his focus downfield despite all the chaos happening in front of him. That’s Obama’s enduring quality, and (to borrow another sports term) this has been his “career year.”

(click here to continue reading Obama and Bill Simmons: The GQ Interview | GQ.)

Archaeologists in Israel have kind of a great problem. While building a visitor center to house the Lod Mosaic, a magnificent work from 300 AD discovered near the construction site in 1996, workers uncovered another ancient treasure: a 1,700-year-old Roman mosaic.

The new find measures an impressive 36 feet by 42 feet, and would have likely paved the courtyard floor in a large Roman or Byzantine-era villa. The Israel Antiquities Authority unveiled photos of the floor, which contains imagery of fish, hunting animals, birds, and vases, this week in the Israel National News, which called it “breathtaking” and “among the most beautiful” mosaics in the country.

(click here to continue reading Hidden Ancient Mosaic Discovered in Israel – artnet News.)

Opera Reminiscence’s 1829

We have two possibilities before us. First, that House Republicans purposefully stacked their Benghazi! select committee with the dumbest, most inept, most incompetent twits they could round up. Or second, that they didn’t do that and the whole sodding Congress is just this dumb.

Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a member of the House Select Committee On Benghazi, said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid “a trap” for the committee by making her Oct. 22 appearance go “as long as possible.” Mind you, of all the people in that hearing room, the one least able to control how long the committee would sit on their behinds and ask former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton long, sometimes bizarre questions was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She was not allowed to just pick up and go home, even after the first four, six, eight, and 10 hours of questions proved that Republicans had absolutely no new information or questions or theories that might require her actual presence there. Republicans could have, say, limited their robust speechifying and instead asked a few more actual questions. They could have paid attention to their own rules on how long questions could go on, and perhaps gently persuaded the worst of the blowhards to give it a rest when their time had officially expired.

(click here to continue reading Rep. Westmoreland: Hillary Clinton laid ‘a trap’ for Benghazi committee by answering their questions.)

 Clown Runs For Prez (Trump)
Clown Runs For Prez (Trump)

Not one of them can win, but one must. That’s the paradox of the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, fast becoming the signature event in the history of black comedy.

Conventional wisdom says that with the primaries and caucuses rapidly approaching, front-running nuts Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson must soon give way to the “real” candidates. But behind Trump and Carson is just more abyss. As I found out on a recent trip to New Hampshire, the rest of the field is either just as crazy or as dangerous as the current poll leaders, or too bumbling to win.

Disaster could be averted if Americans on both the left and the right suddenly decide to be more mature about this, neither backing obvious mental incompetents, nor snickering about those who do. But that doesn’t seem probable.

Instead, HashtagClownCar will almost certainly continue to be the most darkly ridiculous political story since Henry II of Champagne, the 12th-century king of Jerusalem, plunged to his death after falling out of a window with a dwarf. 

(click here to continue reading The GOP Clown Car Rolls On | Rolling Stone.)

Truck full of Cannabis
Truck full of Cannabis 

Beginning in 2012, four states and the District of Columbia have voted to legalize marijuana. By this time next year, that number could well double, and then some. National polls consistently show majorities in favor of legalization, with a recent Gallup poll showing 58% support—tied for the highest level in the poll’s history.

That doesn’t mean legalization is inevitable in any given state, as the case of Ohio demonstrated earlier this month. There an initiative led by non-movement investors who sought monopolistic control of commercial pot cultivation got trounced despite spending millions of dollars.

But the Ohio result was probably a fluke, a convergence of a number of factors, including tone-deaf initiative organizers, a flawed initiative, a widely criticized mascot, and the fact that it was an off-off-year election with low voter turnout. There is no reason to believe that legalization initiatives likely next year in other states will be defeated just because the Ohio effort went down in flames.

At this point, it looks like six states are likely to legalize weed through the initiative process next year, with those efforts at varying stages, and a couple more could do it through the legislative process.

(click here to continue reading The next 8 states that could legalize weed within the year – Salon.com.)

RIP, iPod Classic
RIP, iPod Classic

I don’t have terabytes worth of music, but I have a lot, and I’m frequently annoyed with iTunes. However, I keep with it because it syncs to my iPhone/iPad…

AT THE START of the millennium, Apple famously set out to upend the music business by dragging it into the digital realm. The iTunes store provided an easy way of finding and buying music, and iTunes provided an elegant way of managing it. By 2008, Apple was the biggest music vendor in the US. But with its recent shift toward streaming media, Apple risks losing its most music-obsessed users: the collectors.

Most of iTunes’ latest enhancements exist solely to promote the recommendation-driven Apple Music, app downloads, and iCloud. Users interested only in iTunes’ media management features—people with terabytes of MP3s who want a solid app to catalog and organize their libraries—feel abandoned as Apple moves away from local file storage in favor of cloud-based services. These music fans (rechristened “power users” in the most recent lingo) are looking for alternatives to Apple’s market-dominating media management software, and yearn for a time when listening to music didn’t require being quite so connected.

(click here to continue reading Apple’s iTunes Is Alienating Its Most Music-Obsessed Users | WIRED.)

…raises hand

A Love Supreme - John Coltrane
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane

If you only own the original studio release of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” (recorded on December 9, 1964, and issued in February, 1965), then the new three-disk release “A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters” of the classic album by Coltrane’s classic quartet will be a revelatory experience.

It’s a revelation because of one particular set, one that many Coltrane fans have heard before: the live performance by the quartet from Juan-les-Pins, France, on July 26, 1965, of the entire suite of “A Love Supreme.” This set was also included the “deluxe” two-disk edition of “A Love Supreme,” issued by Impulse! Records, in 2002. By making that performance readily available to the general listener, Impulse! sparked a major advance in the appreciation, the understanding—and the love—of “A Love Supreme.” The merits of that recording shed particular light on the importance—and, strangely, the limits—of the original studio recording of “A Love Supreme.”

(click here to continue reading Seeing Through “A Love Supreme” to Find John Coltrane – The New Yorker.)

Listening In
Listening In

Despite the intelligence community’s attempts to blame NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for the tragic attacks in Paris on Friday, the NSA’s mass surveillance programs do not have a track record — before or after Snowden — of identifying or thwarting actual large-scale terrorist plots.

CIA Director John Brennan asserted on Monday that “many of these terrorist operations are uncovered and thwarted before they’re able to be carried out,” and lamented the post-Snowden “handwringing” that has made that job more difficult.

But the reason there haven’t been any large-scale terror attacks by ISIS in the U.S. is not because they were averted by the intelligence community, but because — with the possible exception of one that was foiled by local police — none were actually planned.

And even before Snowden, the NSA wasn’t able to provide a single substantiated example of its surveillance dragnet preventing any domestic attack at all.

(click here to continue reading U.S. Mass Surveillance Has No Record of Thwarting Large Terror Attacks, Regardless of Snowden Leaks.)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top government officials could be detained if they step foot in Spain after a judge there issued an arrest warrant stemming from a deadly 2010 Gaza flotilla raid, but Israel is dismissing the move as a “provocation.”

In the 2010 incident, a group of human rights activists — which included members affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, according to authorities – boarded several aid ships to try and break an Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem Post reports.

(click here to continue reading Spain issues arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu over deadly 2010 flotilla raid | Fox News.)


In its article, the AP also wrote, “The archive had more detailed data for children and teenagers, showing 70 from those age groups killed by firearms since the Democratic candidates debated Oct. 13 – not 200 as [Clinton] claimed.”

Again, this criticism of Clinton is erroneous because it treats the Gun Violence Archive as a comprehensive source.

The botched AP fact check was subsequently touted by the National Rifle Association.

(click here to continue reading AP Botches Fact Check Of Hillary Clinton’s Accurate Statement About Gun Deaths | Blog | Media Matters for America.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 19th, 2015 at 10:21 am

Quick Hitters – November 17th, 2015 Edition

without comments

Well since the great Reeder / Delicious experiment failed, maybe I’ll try just posting this manually. If I had more mental energy, I’d craft responses to all these; instead I’ll leave that as an exercise to you, the reader, to imagine what I might have said…


 Rolling up on stage after HRC, O’Malley got in on the action himself. “Last night in the debate, Secretary Clinton, to try to mask her proximity to Wall Street and the huge amount of contributions she has received personally from the major banks of Wall Street, sadly invoked 9/11,” O’Malley said. “She doesn’t have to mask it. It is what it is. That is the sort of economy, that is the sort of economic advice she would follow.”

So far, so ordinary. A lot of the audience, and most of the media, had filtered out after HRC had finished her spot, so there was a corporal’s guard of largely white, largely elderly folks remaining when Cornel West took the stage to pitch Bernie Sanders, and then the day stopped being ordinary for everyone.

“What a blessing it is to be here,” West began. “All of my brothers and sisters of all colors here in central I-O-WA!”

Suddenly, the whole atmosphere of the day changed. Some of the people who’d stuck around looked on in something like awe. Some of them laughed and cheered. And, admittedly, more than a few of them looked as though they’d been hit over the head with a shovel. For West it didn’t matter. He’d started at a higher altitude and he very quickly lit the afterburners.

(click here to continue reading Cornel West Stumps for Bernie Sanders in Iowa.)


Indeed, it’s not clear that the talk of Christian refugees is meant, even by the loudest Republicans, to translate into the appearance of Syrian Christians in America, as opposed to being an acknowledgment that some of the crowds that cheer when they hear anti-immigrant rhetoric might have qualms of conscience. The problem, they can be told, is just that our Muslim-sympathizing, cowardly leaders would bring in the wrong refugees.

Christians are in danger in Syria. Their danger is distinct but not unique. The Yazidis, an even more isolated religious minority, has been a particular target of ISIS. Shiites and Alawites have been targeted, too. Refugee policies have at times rightly recognized the urgent danger that certain religious or otherwise distinct groups are in, and have properly responded. This is something quite different than saying, as Cruz does, that being a Muslim should be a basis for exclusion. Would he let in atheists, for that matter? It seems strange, when moderate Muslims are trying to distance themselves from a milieu of terror, that we would insist that such a thing is impossible. There are international and American laws that recognize people who need protection. There are principles of common decency which do the same. What they do not do is use faith, or the lack of it, as a basis for rejection. (America should have let in more Jewish refugees during the Second World War; that wouldn’t have meant turning away Thomas Mann.) And it is a brutal insult to Syrians who have gone through four and half years of carnage to say that the fact that they are Sunnis gives them some sort of immunity from ISIS or from the Assad regime. There are four million Syrian refugees outside of the country now, and many more inside it. There will likely be some bad people among them. That fact does not obviate their suffering. Taking more of them in can be an unpopular position at a moment when the news is full of speculation that one of the Paris attackers had passed through a refugee camp in Greece with a Syrian passport. But their desperation will not disappear if we lose interest in it; it may just take a different and more destructive form. We have a role in deciding where they will go next.

One of the more dishonest aspects of Cruz’s comments on Fox was his characterization of who the Syrian refugees are. He mentioned an estimate that, in the “early waves” of refugees entering Europe, “seventy-seven per cent of those refugees were young men. That is a very odd demographic for a refugee wave.” Perhaps it would be, if the number were accurate. A bare majority of the Syrian refugees are women, as FactCheck.org noted in September, when Ben Carson and Scott Walker raised similar alarms. About twenty-two per cent are men between the ages of eighteen and fifty-nine—a broad definition of “young.” Cruz is smart enough to know this. He may be referring to a number given for migrants who arrived in Europe, from nine different countries, by taking a specific, dangerous Mediterranean sea route in 2014 (seventy-two per cent). Among the two million Syrian refugees the United Nations has registered in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, a full thirty-eight per cent are under the age of twelve.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz’s Religious Test for Syrian Refugees – The New Yorker.)

“States lack legal authority to refuse to accept refugees (or any other immigrants) that are admitted by the federal [government],” [Adam Cox, a New York University Law School professor who is an expert in immigration and constitutional law] wrote in an email.

* And, of course…

“There are no barriers, no requirements in the Refugee Act of 1980 that indicate a governor has to give permission to resettle in a state,” [Anna Crosslin, the president of International Institut] said. “That’s all a federal process.”

That’s pretty obvious. We can’t just shut our state borders.

(click here to continue reading Capitol Fax.com – Your Illinois News Radar » Missing the point.)


He’s part news anchor, part gleeful nerd—a formula that’s almost scientific in its ability to deliver hard-core information with chasers of wit. In this, however, he was just giving us a kind of release.

“So here is where things stand. First, as of now, we know that this attack was carried out by gigantic fucking assholes, unconscionable, flaming assholes, possibly, possibly working with other fucking assholes, definitely working in service of an ideology of pure assholery,” he said. His audience began to laugh. “Second, and this goes almost without saying, Fuck these assholes!” The audience began to cheer. “Fuck them, if I may say, sideways!” He made some definitive hand gestures. Third, he said, nothing these assholes attempt is going to work. “France is going to endure. And I’ll tell you why. If you are in a war of culture and life style with France, good fucking luck!” More cheering. “Go ahead, go ahead. Bring your bankrupt ideology. They’ll bring Jean-Paul Sartre, Edith Piaf, fine wine, Gauloises cigarettes, Camus, Camembert, madeleines, macarons”—images of these appeared behind him as he spoke—“Marcel Proust, and the fucking croquembouche!” An image of what looked like a glazed-cream-puff Christmas tree popped up. He waved his hands and pointed at it. “The croquembouche! You just brought a philosophy of rigorous self-abnegation to a pastry fight, my friends. You are fucked! That is a French freedom tower!” The crowd howled with delight.

(click here to continue reading Vive John Oliver – The New Yorker.)
Funky Funky Christmas

During a press conference this morning, President Obama used the term “pop off” in reference to people making uninformed and patently ridiculous claims about what should be done with France and ISIS. And, unless I go outside today and witness a Sojourner Truth hologram double dutching with Marilyn Mosby, I’m very confident in declaring that the Black president dismissively referring to his haters the exact same way Loretha Lyon or Draymond Green or your barber or your best friend or you would have will be the Blackest thing that ever happened this week.

So Black, in fact, that instead of attempting to determine and assess exactly how Black it was, I’m more interested in how “folks wanna pop off” found its way into the President’s lexicon. Does he possess a reservoir of culturally relevant slang terms and colloquialisms that he employs when White people aren’t around? We know he code switches — we see it with every seven-step handshake, and his rendition of Amazing Grace during Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s eulogy is a first-ballot entry in the Code Switch Hall of Fame — but he’s also a 54-year-old man who hoops in Sam’s Club Nikes and tucks his shirt into his sweatpants. (No. seriously. He does.) He is, and will always be, cool in a macro sense. But, in micro sense, he, again, is a 54-year-old man who hoops in Sam’s Club Nikes and tucks his shirt into his sweatpants. This is not what cool people do. Cool people do, however, reflexively use “pop off” to address haters. President Obama is a paradox.

(click here to continue reading President Obama’s “Folks Wanna Pop Off” Is The Blackest Thing That Ever Happened This Week » VSB.)


ANTALYA, Turkey — President Barack Obama is sending a message to critics he says “pop off” with their opinions about the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State.

He says they should present a specific plan. And if his critics think their advisers are smarter than Obama’s, the president says, “I want to meet them.”

Obama says his sole interest is in keeping the American people safe. He says he’s not interested in doing what works politically or will make him or America look tough.

(click here to continue reading Obama decries critics who ‘pop off’ with opinions on IS – The Washington Post.)


It seems like it has taken an eternity, but the Roosevelt Road raised bikeway is finally getting the green paint and bike symbols that will turn it into a functional cycling route. This Chicago Department of Transportation initiative is part of a streetscaping project that involved widening the sidewalk along Roosevelt between State Street and Michigan Avenue to make room for the two-way bike lane.

(click here to continue reading Eyes on the Street: Roosevelt Raised Bike Lane Is Almost Ready to Ride | Streetsblog Chicago.)


Directly across the street stood a house painted in bright, horizontal rainbow stripes. The house had been bought, in 2012, by Planting Peace, a nonprofit group whose mission, according to its Web site, is “spreading peace in a hurting world.” The Equality House, as it’s known, is home to a group of young L.G.B.T. activists. Planting Peace has worked with former Westboro members to spread its message of tolerance. Megan first visited the house in 2013, after her cousin Libby encouraged her to visit. She sneaked in the back door, for fear of being spotted by her family.

Today, Megan and Grace’s only connection to Westboro is virtual. Although Phelps-Roper no longer believes that the Bible is the word of God, she still reads it to try to find scriptural arguments that could encourage Westboro to take a more humane approach to the world. Sometimes she’ll tweet passages, knowing that church members will see them. After they left the church, Megan and Grace were blocked from Westboro’s Twitter accounts, but they created a secret account to follow them. Sometimes, when her mother appears in a video, Megan will loop it over and over, just to hear her voice.

Fred Phelps died in March, 2014, at the age of eighty-four. Former members of the church told me that Fred had had a softening of heart at the end of his life and had been excommunicated.

(click here to continue reading Conversion via Twitter – The New Yorker.)


In some ways, his story mirrors that of Lassana Bathily, a young immigrant from Mali who hid a group of frightened shoppers from the assault at the Kosher supermarket in January. Both were Muslim, and both risked their lives for others while men claiming to represent their faith caused so much carnage. A contrast that perhaps illustrates the complex nature of Muslim relations in France. I asked him what he thought about the killers claiming their actions in the name of Islam. “This has nothing to do with religion.” “Real Muslims are not made for killing people,” he said. “These are criminals.”

(click here to continue reading Paris attacks: Restaurant worker who saved two women – BBC News.)


Governors of at least 20 U.S. states have now said they won’t accept additional refugees from Syria after the attacks Friday in Paris, which French officials say were masterminded by a Belgian who fought for the Islamic State in Syria. As of Monday evening, governors in five other states said they would welcome refugees as part of President Obama’s plan to accept 10,000 people in 2016 who are fleeing the Islamic State and Syria’s civil war.

That means at least half of governors have weighed in, even though they can’t block refugees from entering the United States (though they could complicate settlement within their states’ borders).

There is one stark, obvious difference between these two groups of states: the party that controls the statehouse. Just one of the 20 governors who oppose taking in more refugees is a Democrat: Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

(click here to continue reading Governors Who Want To Ban Syrian Refugees Have Something In Common | FiveThirtyEight.)

Doonesbury - Texas Secession
Doonesbury – Texas Secession

Californium is an upcoming first-person game inspired by science fiction author Philip K. Dick. It seems to be about a writer who “slips” between different realities as his life falls apart.

If you’ve any familiarity with Dick, you’ll know that most of his fiction — which has been made into movies like Total Recall, Through a Scanner Darkly, and Blade Runner — deals with the conflict between paranoid characters and the world around them, which may or may not confirm their darkest fears.

Californium is vividly illustrated by French artist Oliver Bonhomme, wh may be the perfect fit for this sort of surreal story about Elvin Green, a sentimental writer with not too many prospects. You become Green in the story, discovering a break up letter from your wife, an editor who fires you, and other such travails.

(click here to continue reading Upcoming Philip K Dick-inspired game is appropriately bizarre | Cult of Mac.)

For most of U.S. history, cities and towns were not eligible for bankruptcy protection. But during the Great Depression, more than 2,000 municipalities defaulted on their debt, and they pleaded with President Roosevelt for a federal bailout. “All they got was sympathy,” reported Time magazine in 1933. Instead, Roosevelt pushed through changes to the bankruptcy laws that allow towns and cities to file for bankruptcy. They even got their own section of the bankruptcy code: Chapter Nine.

(click here to continue reading What Happens When City Hall Goes Bankrupt? : NPR.)


The long-rumored Apple store at the gateway to the North Michigan Avenue shopping district won’t be a 2.0 version of the famous glass cube that forms an iconic entry into the retailer’s Fifth Avenue flagship in Manhattan. It would be more like a high-tech version of Frank Lloyd Wright’s quintessentially Midwestern Prairie Style homes, with river views to boot.

Soon-to-be-unveiled plans for the store call for a glass-sheathed temple of computing near the historic Michigan Avenue bridge and grand flights of stairs that would cascade from street level to the walkway along the Chicago River’s north bank. These details are outlined in a report from the city’s Department of Planning and Development, a draft copy of which was obtained by the Tribune.

(click here to continue reading Apple store on Chicago River: An exclusive first look at plans – Chicago Tribune.)https://farm1.staticflickr.com/531/18578039911_eff2134bb6_n.jpg

Written by Seth Anderson

November 18th, 2015 at 9:44 am

Interactive Voice Systems Try New Consumer Approaches

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Illinois Telephone and Telegraph Co

Earlier today…


It’s one thing as a consumer to go through the frustrating experience of calling for customer service and getting lost in a maze of “Press one for…” and “press two for…” and inevitably being sent to the wrong extension, misunderstood by a bot, or simply cut off and forced to repeat the process. But it’s another to encounter it as a reporter trying to get in touch with companies that make these so-called interactive voice-response systems. Each request made to speak with a living, breathing human for this story was met with a recorded instruction to leave a voicemail. In short, IVRs systems practice what they preach. “We purposely designed it to have bad customer service”

Interactive Voice Systems Try New Consumer Approaches


Written by eggplant

August 17th, 2015 at 1:12 pm

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Ted Cruz launches Guam ground game as consultant is sent to tiny island | US news | The Guardian

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Sunset on Guam
(photo by Yuki Yaginuma, used under Creative Commons license. )

Can someone punch this Dennis Lennox guy in the face, and tell him to pass it along to Ted “Calgary” Cruz?
Earlier today…

The Cruz campaign has dispatched political consultant Dennis Lennox to Guam to organize in advance of that island’s GOP caucuses. The decision to send Lennox, a former county drain commissioner in his native Michigan, to Guam represents the most zealous outreach of any presidential campaign to the US island territory located nearly 8,000 miles from Washington DC, in bid to scoop up nine delegates from US island territory

Ted Cruz launches Guam ground game as consultant is sent to tiny island | US news | The Guardian

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August 17th, 2015 at 1:11 pm

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How ‘Rock Star’ Became a Business Buzzword – The New York Times

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Earlier today…

Years ago, in the early ’90s, I took a copywriting class at a large Chicago ad agency, and the teacher told us a story about how, a few years earlier, he tried to persuade the indie band Timbuk3 to allow his client ­— I think it was Procter & Gamble — to use its song ‘‘Hairstyles and Attitudes’’ in a commercial, but the musicians refused. I was struck by his contempt for their decision, and how fresh his anger seemed. He kept sputtering the reason they gave for turning down his agency’s offer — ‘‘They didn’t want to sell out!’’ — as if it constituted not just an unthinkable betrayal but also a reprehensible moral lapse. He seemed to expect us to mirror his indignation, but we just sat there, feeling uncomfortable.

How ‘Rock Star’ Became a Business Buzzword – The New York Times

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August 16th, 2015 at 9:32 am

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Today In Non-Apology Apologies – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

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Earlier today…

You may remember Kristen McQueary from such op-eds as “oh, if only death and destruction could come to (poorer than me) people so that Chicago could be rid of Rahm Emmanuel’s uncompromising socialism.” The most offensive parts were quietly scrubbed without a note after the initial reaction, but even what remains is appalling. McQueary responds to the criticism her staggering inhumanity received in a manner that is, in its own way, appropriate: Many readers thought my premise — through my use of metaphor and hyperbole — was out of line. I certainly hear you. I am reading your tweets and emails. And I am horrified and sickened at how that column was read to mean I would be gunning for actual death and destruction. Now that’s how you do an “I apologize if you were offended by my extremely offensive remarks” non-apology, everyone.

Today In Non-Apology Apologies – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

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August 15th, 2015 at 12:47 pm

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AT&T Helped N.S.A. Spy on an Array of Internet Traffic – The New York Times

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Earlier today…

The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T. While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.” AT&T’s cooperation has involved a broad range of classified activities, according to the documents, which date from 2003 to 2013.

AT&T Helped N.S.A. Spy on an Array of Internet Traffic – The New York Times

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August 15th, 2015 at 12:41 pm

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T – The New York Times

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Chortle At Joker’s Boner

Earlier today…

If people consistently make logically incoherent, ignorant arguments, the duty of a commentator is to say just that — not to mislead readers by pretending that they’re actually serious and making sense. You shouldn’t make gratuitous insults — I have never, to my knowledge, declared that someone’s mother was a hamster and his father smelt of elderberries. But stupid/ignorant is as stupid/ignorant does, and influence changes nothing. Where I’ve been getting pushback lately is in my pronouncements that the whole Republican field is talking nonsense on economic policy. That’s a terrible thing to say, I’m told. But what if it’s true? And of course it is.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T – The New York Times

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August 15th, 2015 at 10:35 am

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Marijuana Legalization in Colorado Leads to First ‘Weedery’ – The New York Times

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Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic

Earlier today…

Wineries and breweries should brace themselves for some unusual competition. Colorado, which legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012, will get its first “weedery” in early 2016. The $35 million project, Colorado Cannabis Ranch and Amphitheater, the brainchild of Christian Hageseth, is set to open in Denver. Its greenhouses represent a major shift because producers have largely cultivated marijuana indoors; there will also be a performance space, a restaurant, a rooftop bar, a gift shop and, of course, a marijuana dispensary. Mr. Hageseth, who founded the Green Man Cannabis marijuana company and chronicled his adventures in the medical and legal marijuana business in the book “Big Weed,” says he enjoys his own product but shatters stereotypes.

Marijuana Legalization in Colorado Leads to First ‘Weedery’ – The New York Times

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August 15th, 2015 at 10:29 am

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Low Oil Prices Pose Threat to Texas Fracking Bonanza – The New York Times

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iTunes Screensaver 1

Earlier today…

Record production in the United States, along with a drilling frenzy in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, as well as the prospect that Iranian oil will again flood world markets, have spooked traders into abandoning their positions. What’s more, the very productivity here in the heart of the Eagle Ford shale fields, and the efforts by the oil companies to make them increasingly efficient, are contributing to the glut as well.

Low Oil Prices Pose Threat to Texas Fracking Bonanza – The New York Times

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August 15th, 2015 at 10:26 am

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Photo Republished at Did Pharmaceutical Firms Exploit Pancreas Problems to Increase Profits? – Truthdig

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Photo by swanksalot (CC BY-SA 2.0) Successful efforts by patient advocacy groups to require new approval standards for a particular class of drugs have resulted, perhaps inadvertently, in a sharp reduction of available products and a spike in the cost of brand name drugs to a tune of $350 million per year, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News contributor Monica J. Smith reports.

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Did Pharmaceutical Firms Exploit Pancreas Problems to Increase Profits? – Truthdig

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Written by eggplant

July 28th, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Photo Republished at Drones: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know But Were Always Afraid to Ask | Mother Jones

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Foreign Policy 

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swanksalot/Flickr Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released two separate new reports on civilian deaths in US drone strikes. Amnesty’s report examines 45 strikes in North Waziristan in northwestern Pakistan between January 2012 and August 2013, and HRW’s examines six examples of targeted killing in Yemen. “The drones are like the angels of death,” says Nazeer Gul, a shopkeeper in the Pakistani town of Miramshah. If you’ve checked out the news these past few (or many) months, you’ve probably noticed some news about drones. Drones used by the CIA to vaporize suspected terrorists. Drones used by the United States military. Drones that deliver food. Drones used by cops. Drones possibly violating the US Constitution. Drones protecting wildlife. Drones in pop culture. Maybe this has left you with some burning questions about these increasingly prominent flying robots. Here’s an easy-to-read, nonwonky guide to them—we’ll call it Drones for Dummies.

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Drones: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know But Were Always Afraid to Ask | Mother Jones

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Written by eggplant

July 28th, 2014 at 6:51 pm

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