Live Blog: Super Duper Tuesday Primary Election Returns

Florida

Good Evening!!

This will be short and sweet, because I’m still feeling very under the weather.

The cable networks are starting to give hints about the exit polls in the five states that are holding primaries today. It’s all pretty general so far, and I’m not math wizard enough to get much out it. It looks like it’s closed in Ohio and Illinois, and Missouri is still a mystery.

If Hillary performs as well as expected in Florida and North Carolina, she will end the night with an increased lead in pledged delegates. Bernie would need to win one of the big Midwestern states by a landslide to gain any ground on her.

As for the Republicans, I’m assuming Trump will win at this point. I don’t really care about them, but if you’re hearing interesting things about the GOP race, feel free to share them.

We’ll find out pretty soon what will happen on both sides. Polls will be closing in all of the states pretty soon and voting will be over everywhere by 8PM ET.

I’ve enjoyed watching the vote counts at the New York Times so far. FiveThirtyEight has an excellent live blog as well.

What are you hearing? Let us know in the comment thread and enjoy yourselves. Remember that Hillary already has a huge lead in pledged delegates; so don’t freak out if Bernie wins Ohio and/or Illinois, especially if it’s close.

 


Tuesday Reads: Super Duper Tuesday

Voting day coming up soon oh boy, Richard Hubal

Voting day is coming up soon oh boy, Richard Hubal

Good Day!!

Sorry to be so late in posting today. I’m really struggling with a sinus/chest cold and I don’t have much energy these days.

Today’s primary elections will actually be bigger for the Democrats than Super Tuesday was. The media is playing up the possibility that Sanders could win in Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri; but even if that happens, which I think is doubtful, Clinton should win handily in Florida and North Carolina. She will most likely end the night with an expanded delegate lead.

Trump will probably sew up the Republican nomination, especially if he beats Marco Rubio in Florida, which looks likely.

The attacks on Hillary Clinton are escalating as she gets closer to becoming the first woman presidential nominee of a major political party.

It’s kind of difficult to remember now, but at the beginning of the primary campaign, Bernie Sanders promised to run a positive campaign focused on the issues. It’s been quite awhile now since he switched to attacking Hillary Clinton personally and using innuendo to question her integrity. NBC News examines his move to negative campaigning.

Election Day 1944, Norman Rockwell

Election Day 1944, Norman Rockwell

A Month on Offense: How Sanders Upped His Attacks on Clinton.

The candidate who went out of his way to avoid attacking his rival throughout the summer, fall and winter has relentlessly unleashed on Clinton for three straight weeks, focusing on familiar talking points now strung together as a fixture of his stump speech.

“Now let me say a few words about some of the strong differences of opinion that I have with Secretary Clinton,” he now normally begins one portion of his speeches before hitting her on a litany of issues. The go-to critiques include trade, the Iraq War, and Clinton’s use of Super PACs.

Boos and heckles quickly arrive from his supporters as they outwardly delight in hearing the differences between their candidate and the Democratic frontrunner.

Chairing the Member, Hogarth 1755 (London)

Chairing the Member, Hogarth 1755 (London)

Sanders no longer makes any effort to tone down his followers’ abuse of Clinton and her supporters–whether in rallies or on social media. Instead, he encourages it.

Depending on the day, Sanders also has dinged Clinton on her and her husband’s support of the “homophobic” Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and her support from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

“I do not want Henry Kissinger to ever praise me!” he roared during a Michigan rally at Grand Valley State University near Grand Rapids.

The shift in tone has been drastic. In 2015 and early 2016, even uttering Clinton’s name would draw headlines—then unwanted by the candidate himself.

“I cannot walk down the street—Secretary Clinton knows this—without being told how much I have to attack Secretary Clinton,” Sanders told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell during the NBC’s January Democratic Debate, “Want to get me on the front page of the paper? I make some vicious attack. I have avoided doing that. I am trying to run an issue-oriented campaign.”

He still emphasizes issues, but things have changed since that debate.

They certainly have. Sanders has become just another dirty politician shouting lies and half-truths about his opponent. In on-line forums, his followers have taken his behavior as encouragement for stunningly sexist and racist attacks on Clinton. The similarities between the Trump and Sanders campaign are growing as time goes on. I don’t like to think what will happen if Sanders loses in Illinois or Ohio tonight.

Go to the NBC link to read the rest. It’s a long piece.

Philadelphia Election Day 1815, John Lewis Kimmel

Philadelphia Election Day 1815, John Lewis Kimmel

The media has found another gaffe to hang on Hillary. In her “town hall” with Chris Matthews on MSNBC last night, she said that “we didn’t lose a single person” in the 2011 Libyan intervention. Naturally, that is being interpreted to mean that she has forgotten the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and four others in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2012. Politico:

“Libya was a different kind of calculation. And we didn’t lose a single person. We didn’t have a problem in supporting our European and Arab allies in working with NATO,” the former secretary of state said during an MSNBC town hall on Monday night.

Clinton may have been referring strictly to the U.S.-backed overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, which indeed saw no loss of American lives and cost just around $1 billion. But her comments ignore the 2012 attacks at the U.S. mission and CIA outpost in Benghazi, which killed four people including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Right. After years of being attacked and blamed for the deaths of four people, Clinton has probably just forgotten all about them. Good grief.

The Sanders campaign committed a far worse gaffe yesterday.

Jane Sanders appeared with racist, anti-immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona and actually let him lead her on a tour of his “tent city.” It’s not clear the campaign planned this meeting, but why didn’t they hustle her away immediately when Arpaio showed up?

Channel 12 News: Jane Sanders meets with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, tours Tent City.

Jane Sanders wasn’t planning a tour of Tent City on Monday, but Sheriff Joe Arpaio made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.

Sanders planned to view Tent City from the fence, with the help of Puente leader Carlos Garcia. But Arpaio hustled over here from another news conference and the two of them talked policy, politics and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Sanders also asked inmates about the conditions and why they were in Tent City.

The County Election, George Caleb Bingham

The County Election, George Caleb Bingham

And of course, we know that Sanders surrogate Ben Cohen told Fox News he didn’t know if he could vote for Hillary Clinton in November. Jane Sanders later tweeted that she wasn’t expecting Arpaio to show up, but the damage was done.

As an antidote to the Clinton bashing from Sanders and the media, I suggest reading this post by Peter Daou at Blue Nation Review: Hillary Clinton Is (By Far) the Most Trusted Candidate in 2016.

Let’s define “most trusted” in its literal — and most measurable — sense: More people trust X than anyone else.

And let’s further refine that definition to an act of trust, such as a vote or public endorsement….

Hillary has been endorsed by a greater number of respected public figures and organizations than any other candidate. And more importantly, she leads all other candidates in the popular vote….

Take Bernie Sanders. He had the opportunity to vote against Hillary’s nomination for Secretary of State. After all, he voted against Tim Geithner for Treasury Secretary. Instead, he voted to confirm her, an affirmation of his trust in her ability to represent America to the world….

Think about the numerous political leaders, public officials, organizations, and labor unions who trust Hillary with their future. President Obama, John Lewis, Emily’s List, Lilly Ledbetter, Dolores Huerta, Jim Clyburn, Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign, Julian Castro, Brady Campaign, Eric Holder, League of Conservation Voters, Tammy Baldwin, Kirsten Gillibrand, Claire McCaskill, Cory Booker, Sheila Jackson Lee, Bernice King, and countless more….

Most significantly:

NEARLY 5 MILLION VOTERS HAVE PLACED THEIR TRUST IN HILLARY.

That’s more than any other candidate in the 2016 election.

Let’s see what the media is saying about the possible outcomes of today’s primaries.

Graffiti in the central square of Tixtla, home of the rural normal school at Ayotzinapa, reads "Ayotzinapa lives. Voting causes death. Cursed government," in Tixtla, Mexico, Saturday, June 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Graffiti in the central square of Tixtla, home of the rural normal school at Ayotzinapa, reads “Ayotzinapa lives. Voting causes death. Cursed government,” in Tixtla, Mexico, Saturday, June 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

The Guardian: From Ohio to Florida, your cheat sheet for the next crucial primaries.

Although this Tuesday will be less frantic than Super Tuesday two weeks ago, when 12 states and one territory held primary elections, it’s just as important. By 16 March, the race for the White House could look very different depending on how Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio vote.

That’s partly because the delegate numbers in those states are so high – in total, 367 Republican and 792 Democratic delegates are available on 15 March. That brings us significantly closer to the finish line of having just two presidential candidates: at the moment, 33% of Democratic delegates have been pledged but by the time the polls have closed on 15 March, that number will rise to 50%. For Republicans, pledged delegates will jump from 46% to 61%.

Those percentages just mean that playing catch-up gets harder from here. Hillary Clinton is still on track for the nomination – to change that, Bernie Sanders needs to pick up at least 326 of the pledged delegates (in the Democratic race there are also 712 “superdelegates” who are not pledged to a specific candidate based on primary results, so they’re less relevant here).

On the Republican side:

The Republican contest is also likely to change significantly. If, for example,Marco Rubio fails again to pick up a single delegate (and polling suggests that’s a real possibility), his pursuit of the 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination becomes futile – even if he were to win every single remaining delegate after 15 March. That’s partly because, unlike Democrats, Republicans do not always distribute delegates in proportion to votes. In fact, four states holding Republican primaries on 15 March will be the first in this election to assign delegates on a winner-takes-all basis, which is why this date is such a turning point in the 2016 political calendar.

Check out some interesting charts as well as detailed discussions of each state’s demographics at the link.

Election day graffiti in Afghanistan, 4/4/2014

Election day graffiti in Afghanistan, 4/4/2014

The Washington Post: March 15 primaries: Will voting in 5 states cement front-runners?

Voters are casting ballots in the five states across the Midwest and Southeast holding primaries Tuesday — contests that could shore up the two front-runners or breathe new life into the lagging campaigns of their challengers.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) was working to pull off more come-from-behind wins in states where voters feel damaged by globalization, allowing him to claim momentum from Hillary Clinton. The former secretary of state enjoys a sizable lead in delegates but has not been able to seal the nomination.

The contests are especially important on the Republican side, offering a chance for billionaire Donald Trump’s remaining rivals to finally slow his march to the nomination with two winner-take-all contests that have particularly high stakes for a pair of favorite sons, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.

This one is a long and interesting read. I suggest you check out the whole thing at the link.

CNN: What’s Next if Marco Rubio Loses Florida?

Rubio, who began his White House campaign 11 months ago as a hero of Florida Republicans, now faces the prospect of defeat in his home state. For years, Republicans believed that Rubio was destined to be a presidential nominee and that even if he fell short in 2016, he would be well-positioned to run for governor in 2018.

But polls suggest Rubio might not just lose Florida — but get thumped here. A Quinnipiac survey released Monday found Rubio trailing Trump by 24 points in his home state.

A loss of that magnitude could be devastating to Rubio, and leave him in a tough spot if he ever wanted to seek public office again.

Quite a comedown. It will be interesting to see what happens when the polls close in Florida.

Florida’s polls close at 7PM ET (8PM in the Panhandle), North Carolina’s and Ohio’s at 7:30 ET, and Illinois’s and Missouri’s at 8PM ET.

So . . . what are you hearing and reading? Let us know in the comment thread, and please stick around for an exciting day! I’ll add a live blog later on for discussion of the returns.


Thursday Reads: Winter Storms, Political and Corporate Corruption, and Other News

winter2013bookshelves

Good Morning!!

Snow began falling here before 7AM, and there is already a coating over everything. Of course we already had a around a foot of the stuff on the ground, so whatever we get will pile on top of that. Depending on where the rain/snow line falls, everything may be coated with ice by tonight.

Once again the South has been hit hard with winter weather. The Washington Post reports: Winter storm headed toward D.C. knocks out power across the Southeast U.S.

A powerful winter storm dropped a coat of snow and freezing rain across the Southeast on Wednesday, leaving almost 300,000 customers without power, forcing the cancellation ofmore than 3,600 flights, and creating gridlock on roadways in North Carolina.

In Atlanta, where another recent snowstorm had caused massive traffic jams, people seemed to have learned their lesson. Schools were closed. Workers stayed home. The city turned into a kind of wintry ghost town.

But in North Carolina, drivers didn’t seem to have learned the lesson at all.

In both Charlotte and Raleigh, news outlets reported that people headed out onto ice-covered roads in mid-afternoon. The result was the same it had been in Atlanta two weeks ago: creeping traffic, abandoned cars and folks offering stranded motorists a place to stay the night….

As Wednesday went on, the storm swept from Alabama, across Georgia and up into the Carolinas on its way toward Virginia and the Washington area.

Another Winter Storm Affects Atlanta Area

CBS Atlanta warned Georgians to stay off the roads today if possible.

Georgia Department of Transportation officials said they are expecting road conditions to remain treacherous into Thursday morning as sleet and freezing rain is expected to continue. GDOT is urging the public to avoid all but emergency travel until at least mid-day Thursday

Forecasters at the National Weather Service said they are expecting falling pieces of melting ice to pose threats to drivers and pedestrians near overpasses and tall structures on Thursday.

Forecasters are also anticipating wet roads to refreeze Thursday night, which could lead to patches of black ice.

Several inches of snow could accumulate in North Georgia while the area across the state between a line just north of Columbus, Macon, Warner Robins and Statesboro and extending northward to above Interstate Highway 20 are experiencing icing roadways, power lines and trees. Moreover, winds gusting to as much as 30 m.p.h. could cause limbs and trees to fall on power lines and roads. A State of Emergency remains in effect for 91 counties in this region.

Traffic in Charlotte, NC

Traffic in Charlotte, NC

NPR: Winter Storm Paralyzes Roads In North Carolina, Despite Warnings

They knew it was coming. But drivers in North Carolina still fell prey to the winter storm that the National Weather Service predicted would be “potentially crippling” to the area. Even those who left just after noon have been trapped by the heavy snow that arrived today.

“Snow arrives in the Triangle as expected but causes gridlock anyway,” reads the headline in the Raleigh News Observer, referring to the Research Triangle of the cities Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. The intense traffic came one day after Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency ahead of the winter storm.

From what we’re seeing, people are blaming the problem on two factors: The snow came on fast and immediately stuck to roads; and most commuters who worked Wednesday tried to leave at the same time, adding to the gridlock.

The worst of the conditions may be yet to come, as officials expect freezing rain and sleet to hit the area as the storm moves out.

From NBC News: ‘Very Rough Commute’ Looms as Snow Blankets Much of Northeast.

The winter storm that tore through the American South, knocking out power to a half-million people, has marched up the East Coast to terrorize the morning commute Thursday.

More than 150 million people remain under a winter storm warning or advisory as snow falls in some Northeast cities at a rate of 1-2 inches per hour.

“The rate of snowfall will be hard to deal with,” said Kevin Roth, a forecaster with the The Weather Channel. “It will be a very rough commute. The may have enough plows to deal with normal storms but with two inches an hour the they drive by and the snow just builds back up. This will affect any roadways or airport runways in the region.”

It could be a very long weekend for many parents. Since Monday is a holiday, schools may just decide to close tomorrow as well as closing or letting out early today.

ray-nagin

Down in New Orleans, it was a bad day for former Mayor Ray Nagin and former St.Tammany coroner Peter Galvin, but a good day for a city that has endured more than it’s share of political corruption. From Nola.com’s James Varney: Ray Nagin convicted, Peter Galvan sentenced – a good day for Louisiana.

Wednesday was a very good day at U.S. District Court in New Orleans for those who favor good government in Louisiana. Or maybe simply for justice.

Either way, when a former mayor of New Orleans gets convicted on 20 of 21 corruption counts in one federal courtroom, and a crooked coroner is sentenced to two years in another, it at least means the bad guys don’t always get away with it.

Who knows what Ray Nagin, New Orleans’ mayor during its darkest hour of Katrina, will be sentenced to? He faces up to 20 years in prison, and I’m hard pressed to come up with many reasons he should get much less….

Meanwhile, disgraced former St. Tammany coroner Peter Galvan, who managed to make himself the highest paid official in the state and sweeten his pension pot while also raking in undeserved sick pay and other goodies, got off with a 2-year sentence when he could have gotten five.

From the Christian Science Monitor summarizes the evidence against Nagin:

The case against the former mayor was towering. In the nine-day trial, prosecutors summoned many co-conspirators to the stand who testified to the pay-to-play schemes Nagin orchestrated, plus the bribes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars that he sought and then redirected to Stone Age, a granite countertop business operated by custom countertops seattle wa, who were not charged.

In addition to the witnesses, prosecutors presented jurors with a mountain of evidence – e-mail correspondence, business contracts, credit card and bank statements, and more – that they said proved the mayor was a willing participant in wielding power for personal profit.

Nagin was convicted on five counts of bribery, nine counts of wire fraud, one count of money laundering conspiracy, four counts of filing false tax returns, and one overarching count of conspiracy. Jurors acquitted Nagin of a single charge of bribery related to a $10,000 bribe that prosecutors said he accepted through the family business.

“The physical evidence was so overwhelming that for Ray Nagin to have successfully defended this case, he would have had, in some way, to refute these documents and use his credibility,” says Michael Sherman, a political scientist at Tulane University in New Orleans and a former legal adviser to current mayor Mitch Landrieu.

ComcastMonopoly

Now if we could just get the Federal government to stop letting corporations to get away with murder. My jaw dropped when I saw this headline at Reuters: Comcast to buy Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion.

Comcast Corp said on Thursday it would buy Time Warner Cable Inc for $45.2 billion in an all-stock deal that combines the two largest U.S. cable operators.

The friendly takeover comes as a surprise after months of public pursuit of Time Warner Cable by smaller rival Charter Communications Inc, and immediately raised questions as to whether it would pass regulatory scrutiny.

Comcast will pay $158.82 per share, which is roughly what Time Warner Cable demanded from Charter.

The combined company would divest 3 million subscribers, about a quarter of Time Warner’s 12 million customers. Together with Comcast’s 22 million video subscribers, the roughly 30 million total would represent just under 30 percent of the U.S. pay television video market.

The new cable giant would tower over its closest video competitor, DirecTV, which has about 20 million video customers.

WTF?! Comcast already owns broadcast giant NBC, and now they will essential control the distribution of TV and internet cable? If the feds let this go through, it will be another huge step backward to the Robber Baron days. Whatever happened to the Sherman AntiTrust Act, anyway?

ncv-sinkhole-2

This news out of Kentucky is just unbelievable: Sinkhole ‘erupts’ inside National Corvette Museum. From the Autoblog:

A 40-foot sinkhole (see photo at left)  developed inside the National Corvette Museum overnight in Bowling Green, KY, swallowing up eight vehicles, including two Corvette models on loan from General Motors. No one was in the museum at the time of the incident, which happened early this morning.

According to the NCM, motion sensors were set off at 5:44 AM, leading museum authorities to discover a 25 to 30-foot deep chasm, that Executive Director Wendell Strode called “pretty significant.” The sinkhole developed in the museum’s Skydome, although it can’t be seen on any of the museum’s webcams (the Enthusiast cam is the closest look we can get to what’s going on).

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports emergency personnel remain on the scene, and have only allowed museum employees to remove a single vehicle – the only remaining 1983 Corvette, which was part of a mere 44-vehicle run.

The two cars on loan from GM were a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder and a 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil,” while the damanged museum-owned cars included a 1962 Corvette, the millionth Vette ever built (a 1992), a 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 and the 1.5 millionth car produced. None of the damaged vehicles were on loan from private individuals. The extent of the damage to these vehicles remains unclear at this time.

Finally, some science news: Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory claim to have achieved nuclear fusion. From the LA Times: Nuclear fusion reactions mark a ‘milestone’

It took 192 lasers and a building big enough to contain three football fields, but physicists have finally produced a pair of nuclear fusion reactions that created more energy than was in the fuel to start with.

The reactions lasted less than a billionth of a second, and they released only a few thousand joules — enough to power a 100-watt light bulb for less than three minutes. But it marks the first time scientists have been able to harness the power of stars here on Earth.

“This is really an important milestone,” said Warren Mori, a plasma physicist at UCLA who was not involved in the effort.

The experiment, conducted at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the Bay Area, is still a very long way from “ignition,” the point at which the reaction generates more energy than was required to kick it off with lasers. Scientists agree that significant hurdles remain before that goal can be reached.

But the tests, described Wednesday in the journal Nature, give researchers a promising sign that they’re finally on the right path to reaching this goal — one that could ultimately lead to cleaner nuclear energy, safer weapons arsenals and a more profound understanding of astrophysics.

So . . . what stories are you following today? As always, please post your recommended links in the comment thread and stay safe and warm where ever you are!


Tuesday Reads: Neanderthal Tools, Hillary on Voting Rights, Bulger Verdict, and NDE Research

henri-matisse_reading-woman-with-parasol-1921

Good Morning!!

I’ve been somewhat out of the loop for the past few days because I’ve had some kind of weird virus that has made it difficult for me to think. If it weren’t August, I’d wonder if it’s the flu. Everything ached. For a couple of days it felt like my skin actually hurt. Anyway I’ve been vegetating in front of the TV watching Criminal Minds reruns and Lifetime movies. I’m feeling better now, although I’m still sleepy all the time.

I’ve been surfing around this morning, and there is quite a bit of interesting news out there. I’ll begin with a fascinating archaeological find. According to a new study reported in Nature, Neanderthals invented tools made of bone that are still used today for leather-working.

Excavations of Neanderthal sites more than 40,000 years old have uncovered a kind of tool that leather workers still use to make hides more lustrous and water resistant. The bone tools, known as lissoirs, had previously been associated only with modern humans. The latest finds indicate that Neanderthals and modern humans might have invented the tools independently.

The first of the lissoir fragments surfaced a decade ago at a rock shelter called Pech-de-l’Azé in the Dordogne region of southwest France. Archaeologist Marie Soressi of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, knew the tool at once, says her colleague Shannon McPherron.

The tools are also known as slickers and burnishers, says McPherron. Soressi contacted luxury-goods manufacturer Hermès in Paris, and found that their high-end leather workers use just such a tool. “She showed them a picture, and they recognized it instantly,” says McPherron. The company’s line includes the wildly popular Birkin handbag, which sells for around US$10,000 and upwards.

McPherron says that a single artefact, however, was not enough for the researchers to draw broad conclusions. “You find one, and there’s always some doubt. You’re worried that it’s not a pattern — that it’s anecdotal behaviour.” But subsequent digs at Pech-de-l’Azé and nearby Abri Peyrony turned up further lissoir fragments, leading the researchers to conclude that Neanderthals made the tools routinely.

Neanderthal bone tools

Neanderthal bone tools

The researchers say it’s not clear if these kinds of tools were first invented by Neanderthals or modern humans. It’s even possible that modern humans could have learned how to make and use the bone tools from Neantherthals, although most archaeologists believe that Neanderthals learned the skills from humans. From Live Science:

Neanderthals created artifacts similar to ones made at about the same time by modern humans arriving in Europe, such as body ornaments and small blades. Scientists hotly debated whether such behavior developed before or after contact with modern humans.

“There is a huge debate about how different Neanderthals were from modern humans,” said Shannon McPherron, an archaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Now, McPherron and his colleagues have discovered that Neanderthals created a specialized kind of bone tool previously only seen in modern humans. These tools are about 51,000 years old, making them the oldest known examples of such tools in Europe and predating the known arrival of modern humans.

Yesterday North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a new voter suppression voter ID law and the ACLU, NAACP, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice immediately filed suit against it. USA Today:

Republicans who backed the legislation said it was meant to prevent voter fraud, which they claim is both rampant and undetected in North Carolina. Independent voting rights groups joined Democrats and libertarians in suggesting the true goal was to suppress voter turnout, especially among blacks, the young, the elderly and the poor.

“It is a trampling on the blood, sweat and tears of the martyrs — black and white — who fought for voting rights in this country,” said the Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP. “It puts McCrory on the wrong side of history.” [….]

Barber called the Republican-backed measure one of the worst attempts in the nation at voting reform and said the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People considered the package an all-out attack on existing laws long seen as a model of voter participation….

The legislation signed by McCrory and approved last month by state lawmakers requires voters to present government-issued photo IDs at the polls and shortens early voting by a week, from 17 days to 10. It also ends same-day registration, requiring voters to register, update their address or make any other needed changes at least 25 days ahead of an election. A high school civics program that registers tens of thousands of students to vote each year in advance of their 18th birthdays has been eliminated.

Yesterday Hillary Clinton spoke out against the North Carolina law and other efforts to deny and suppress voting rights in a speech before the American Bar Association. HuffPo:

On the same day that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed a restrictive voter ID bill into law, Clinton criticized the Supreme Court decision that she believes “stripped out the pre-clearance formula that made [the Voting Rights Act] so effective.”

She noted that Texas, Florida and North Carolina are states whose recent voter legislation has shifted the burden, slamming the North Carolina bill as one that “reads like the greatest hits of voter suppression.”

“In the weeks since the ruling, we’ve seen an unseemly rush by previously covered jurisdictions to enact or enforce laws that will make it harder for millions of our fellow Americans to vote,” Clinton said.

Clinton also went after several provisions of the North Carolina bill that she believes place a greater burden on citizens facing discrimination, including limited voting hours, stricter ID requirements and restricted early voting.

CNN reports that Hillary also plans to discuss national security and transparency in an upcoming speech.

Clinton said her appearance at the annual meeting of the American Bar Association marked the beginning of a speaking series she’ll embark upon that will also include an address on the United States’ national security policies next month in Philadelphia.

Clinton said the September address would focus of issues of “transparency and balance.” The former top diplomat had not yet publicaly addressed the classified National Security Agency surveillance programs that were revealed through leaks at the beginning of the summer.

The move into the political realm marks a new phase in Clinton’s post-State Department life, which was previously occupied by speeches to global women’s organizations and a schedule of paid appearances. She is also writing a diplomacy-focused memoir for release in 2014.

The speeches will likely fuel speculation that Clinton is planning to jump into the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, where she is considered an early favorite.

Well there’s some exciting news! It’s becoming more an more clear that Hillary plans to run for president in 2016.

I’m sure you’ve already heard that James “Whitey” Bulger has been found guilty of murder and racketeering, among other charges. It was always a foregone conclusion. The only surprise is that the jury was only able to find him guilty of 11 murders out of the 19 he was charged with. The New York Times:

BOSTON — James (Whitey) Bulger, the mobster who terrorized South Boston in the 1970s and ‘80s, holding the city in his thrall even after he disappeared, was convicted Monday of a sweeping array of gangland crimes, including 11 murders. He faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.

The verdict delivers long-delayed justice to Mr. Bulger, 83, who disappeared in the mid-1990s after a corrupt agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation told him he was about to be indicted. He left behind a city that wondered if he would ever be caught — and even if the F.B.I., which had been complicit in many of his crimes and had relied on him as an informer, was really looking for him.

“This was the worst case of corruption in the history of the F.B.I.,” said Michael D. Kendall, a former federal prosecutor who investigated Mr. Bulger’s associates. “It was a multigenerational, systematic alliance with organized crime, where the F.B.I. was actively participating in the murders of government witnesses, or at least allowing them to occur.”

Of course there won’t be any punishment for the FBI except for embarrassment, if that troubles them. And there was only minor punishment for the parade of hit men and other criminals who were given generous deals in exchange for their testimony.

Debbie Davis, left, with her mother Olga, right, was the girlfriend of Stephen Flemmi, Whitey Bugler's gangster partner. She vanished in 1981 and her body was found dismembered in 2000 (Daily Mail)

Debbie Davis, left, with her mother Olga, right, was the girlfriend of Stephen Flemmi, Whitey Bugler’s gangster partner. She vanished in 1981 and her body was found dismembered in 2000
(Daily Mail)

The families of the victims of the 7 murders Bulger was not convicted of were disappointed and angry.

As a clerk read the verdicts in the lengthy and complicated list of charges, Mr. Bulger looked away from the jury and showed no reaction. He was found guilty of 31 of 32 counts of his indictment, the one exception involving an extortion charge. While the jury of eight men and four women convicted him of 11 murders, they found the government had not proved its case against him in seven others, and in one murder case it made no finding, leading to gasps inside the courtroom by relatives of those murder victims and explosive scenes outside the court.

“My father just got murdered again 40 years later in that courtroom,” said the son of William O’Brien, who is also named William….

Perhaps one glimmer of gratification for Mr. Bulger was that the jury reached “no finding” in the death of Debra Davis, one of two women he was accused of strangling. He has long maintained that his personal code of honor did not allow for the killing of women, although the jury did determine that he had killed the other woman, Deborah Hussey. Ms. Davis was the longtime girlfriend of Stephen Flemmi, Mr. Bulger’s former partner in crime who testified against him. Ms. Hussey was the daughter of another of Mr. Flemmi’s longtime girlfriends.

Hit man John Martorano

Hit man John Martorano

One of the jurors has already talked to local Boston media about how stressful the experience was.

One of the jurors who voted to convict Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger for a string of gangland crimes described how the more than 32 hours of deliberations were “stressful” and involved “all kinds of dissension.”

“Slamming doors,” Scott Hotyckey told CBS station WBZ-TV. “People leaving. Peolpe wanting to get off the jury.” [….]

Hotyckey, juror number 5, said the evidence was overwhelming.

“If you could believe the testimony, and believe what you heard,” Hotyckey said. “I don’t see how you couldn’t find the person guilty.”

But Hotyckey says not all of the jurors believed the testimony they heard – especially from John Martorano, a former hit man who got a plea deal from prosecutors to testify against Bulger.

“There was one juror that constantly said that his testimony was not believable,” Hotyckey recalled. “(He said) over and over again that you couldn’t believe anything (Martorano) said because of the government.”

I’ll wrap this post up with another interesting science story from BBC News about an experiment on rats that shows what happens at the moment of death.

A study on rats shows that the brain experiences a huge surge of electricity during the moment of death, suggesting that they are experiencing a higher state of consciousness.

It could explain why people claim to see white light or “life flash before their eyes” during near-death experiences.

Dr Jason Braithwaite from the University of Birmingham says that since this surge is happening in rats, it could also happen in humans.

Watch an interview with Braithwaite at the BBC link. More detail on the study: 

A study carried out on dying rats found high levels of brainwaves at the point of the animals’ demise.

US researchers said that in humans this could give rise to a heightened state of consciousness.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The lead author of the study, Dr Jimo Borjigin, of the University of Michigan, said: “A lot of people thought that the brain after clinical death was inactive or hypoactive, with less activity than the waking state, and we show that is definitely not the case.

“If anything, it is much more active during the dying process than even the waking state.”

Much more at the link.

Now it’s your turn. What stories have caught your fancy today? Please share your links in the comment thread.


Friday Nite Lite: Go to bed crying…

3c8dfda0a189abc1fa1cf967a72cac21Good Friday Nite!

Go to bed crying…

…and wake up screaming?

Well, it isn’t that bad…yet.

However there are times that I do go to bed so angry and frustrated lately at the state of “things” these days you could almost say I go to bed screaming.

North Carolina’s Gov. Pat McCrory has giving the final fuck you to the women of his state…let’s see if  this next Moral Monday will have the power of orange behind it.

LOCAL NC Moral Mondays by Political Cartoonist John Cole

132949 600 LOCAL NC    Moral Mondays cartoons

Alrighty then, here are your cartoons for this first Friday of August…in no particular order by the way…let’s be carefree tonight.

(In other words, I’m being a bit of a lazy ass and don’t feel like going the extra effort to organize the funnies for you.)

Perhaps this little Peanuts cartoon fits my mood best:

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(And considering the fact that I am writing this post at 8 am this morning…that sure as hell is a damn perfect cartoon for me, don’t you agree?)

Okay, on with the funnies:

Detroit – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 07/28/2013

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Detroit

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Paul Fell, Artizans Syndicate – 07/29/2013

Cartoon by Paul Fell -

Weiner Sexting Plan by Political Cartoonist Gary McCoy

135259 600 Weiner Sexting Plan cartoons

Weiner polls by Political Cartoonist Sean Delonas

135263 600 Weiner polls cartoons

Fact – Truthdig

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 07/30/2013

Cartoon by David Horsey -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 07/25/2013

Cartoon by David Horsey -

This next one by Slowpoke is a good one: Blind by Political Cartoonist Jen Sorensen

135294 600 Blind cartoons

Private sins by Political Cartoonist David Fitzsimmons

135271 600 Private sins cartoons

(Love the sheep in that poster!)

stench by Political Cartoonist David Fitzsimmons

135269 600 stench cartoons

MICK JAGGER IS 70 by Political Cartoonist Randy Bish

135328 600 MICK JAGGER IS 70 cartoons

Cure for Anthony Weiner by Political Cartoonist Sean Delonas

135334 600 Cure for Anthony Weiner cartoons

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun – 07/31/2013

Cartoon by Mike Smith -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Paul Fell, Artizans Syndicate – 07/31/2013

Cartoon by Paul Fell -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Charlie Daniel, Knoxville News Sentinel – 07/31/2013

Cartoon by Charlie Daniel -

Threat to the Great Lakes – Political Cartoon by Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News – 07/31/2013

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Threat to the Great Lakes

Mayor Bob Filner by Political Cartoonist Randall Enos

135438 600 Mayor Bob Filner cartoons

Do Nothing Congress by Political Cartoonist Adam Zyglis

135450 600 Do Nothing Congress cartoons

Pope Francis on Gays by Political Cartoonist Mike Keefe

135443 600 Pope Francis on Gays cartoons

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez, El Nuevo Herald – 08/02/2013AAEC – Political Cartoon by Chan Lowe, Sun-Sentinel – 07/31/2013

Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Chan Lowe, Sun-Sentinel – 07/31/2013

https://i2.wp.com/editorialcartoonists.com/cartoons/LoweC/2013/LoweC20130731_low.jpg

Summers Loving by Political Cartoonist Christopher Weyant

135409 600 Summers Loving cartoons

Ya, Grease is the Word!

This is an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: Good Day, Yes?

coffeeframe2Good Morning

Yesterday was a good day, at least for me and a few of the people I love. My daughter is feeling better from her staph infection, my friend out in the cornfields of Iowa got a new job with the Secretary of State’s office, my son is kicking the hell out of a football and this little chocolate puff I have waited months for is finally growing up.

Let’s get to this morning’s reads, here are the latest headlines…I won’t bother to quote from them for you because honestly it is the same old shit, ah…stuff.

This guy is disgusting:  Weiner admits more lewd conduct, vows to stay in New York mayoral race – The Washington Post

I secretly hope they name this kid Geoffrey, but my money is on James or George: Kate Middleton, Prince William emerge with royal baby: ‘We’re still working on a name’   – NY Daily News

Hey, talk about same old shit…only the country changes: General outlines options for U.S. intervention in Syria – CBS News

Meanwhile another rig in the Gulf of Mexico blew up yesterday: Gulf of Mexico natural gas rig blew while completing ‘sidetrack well’ | NOLA.com

And, in Milwaukee, a jury has brought a guilty verdict in another unarmed black teen murder trial: John Henry Spooner gets life sentence in death of black teen | theGrio

A 76-year-old Milwaukee man who fatally shot his unarmed teenage neighbor was sentenced to life in prison Monday, days after telling the court he killed the boy for justice because he believed he stole his shotguns.

John Henry Spooner’s home had been burglarized two days before the May 2012 shooting, and he suspected 13-year-old Darius Simmons as the thief. So he confronted the teen, demanded that he return the guns and then shot him in the chest in front of his mother when he denied stealing anything.

Spooner’s own home surveillance cameras captured the shooting, and prosecutors aired the footage in court.

A jury found Spooner guilty of first-degree intentional homicide last week, a conviction carrying a mandatory life sentence. The judge could have allowed for the possibility of parole after 20 years, but rejected that option, citing Spooner’s lack of remorse and desire to also kill the teen’s brother.

Okay, so I had to quote a bit of that story…

I’ve got another link from the Grio, this makes a lot of sense to me: Why breast cancer kills more black women: They’re sicker | theGrio

And while you read that article, think about the affect all the defunded Planned Parenthood clinics that are closing will have on those statistical averages of fatal cancer rates in black women.  Damn, it makes me so mad.

Shakesville blog has a post up about the SCOTUS Voting Rights Act decision, and how North Carolina is making the most out of it: Cool Democracy We’ve Got

The Supreme Court’s garbage voting rights decision last month paved the way for this shit: “North Carolina on Cusp of Passing Worst Voter Suppression Bill in the Nation.” Among the new requirements being proposed to access voting:

Implementing a strict voter ID requirement that bars citizens who don’t have a proper photo ID from casting a ballot.

Eliminating same-day voter registration, which allowed residents to register at the polls.

Cutting early voting by a full week.

Increasing the influence of money in elections by raising the maximum campaign contribution to $5,000 and increasing the limit every two years.

Making it easier for voter suppression groups like True The Vote to challenge any voter who they think may be ineligible by requiring that challengers simply be registered in the same county, rather than precinct, of those they challenge.

Vastly increasing the number of “poll observers” and increasing what they’re permitted to do. In 2012, ThinkProgress caught the Romney campaign training such poll observers using highly misleading information.

Only permitting citizens to vote in their specific precinct, rather than casting a ballot in any nearby ward or election district. This can lead to widespread confusion, particularly in urban areas where many precincts can often be housed in the same building.

Barring young adults from pre-registering as 16- and 17-year-olds, which is permitted by current law, and repealing a state directive that high schools conduct voter registration drives in order to boost turnout among young voters.

Prohibiting some types of paid voter registration drives, which tend to register poor and minority citizens.

Dismantling three state public financing programs, including the landmark program that funded judicial elections.

Weakening disclosure requirements for outside spending groups.

Preventing counties from extending polling hours in the event of long lines or other extraordinary circumstances and making it more difficult for them to accommodate elderly or disabled voters with satellite polling sites at nursing homes, for instance.

Emphasis original.

Go to the link to read more of what Melissa thinks about this crap… you can probably already surmise what her conclusion to the post said.

Ross Douchehat published a biggie yesterday, I have two links that tackle his latest opinion piece on abortion:

Your Handy Guide To Anti-Choice Concern Trolling – Lawyers, Guns & Money

Ross Douthat Abortion Texas – Cardinal Douthat’s Musings On Abortion -Charlie Pierce at Esquire

In the New York Times this week there was a very interesting article about generations climbing up the income ladder: In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters

A study finds the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities, like Atlanta and Charlotte, and much higher in New York and Boston.

The study — based on millions of anonymous earnings records and being released this week by a team of top academic economists — is the first with enough data to compare upward mobility across metropolitan areas. These comparisons provide some of the most powerful evidence so far about the factors that seem to drive people’s chances of rising beyond the station of their birth, including education, family structure and the economic layout of metropolitan areas.

Climbing the income ladder occurs less often in the Southeast and industrial Midwest, the data shows, with the odds notably low in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus. By contrast, some of the highest rates occur in the Northeast, Great Plains and West, including in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and large swaths of California and Minnesota.

“Where you grow up matters,” said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the study’s authors. “There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty.”

That variation does not stem simply from the fact that some areas have higher average incomes: upward mobility rates, Mr. Hendren added, often differ sharply in areas where average income is similar, like Atlanta and Seattle.

The gaps can be stark. On average, fairly poor children in Seattle — those who grew up in the 25th percentile of the national income distribution — do as well financially when they grow up as middle-class children — those who grew up at the 50th percentile — from Atlanta.

Geography mattered much less for well-off children than for middle-class and poor children, according to the results. In an economic echo of Tolstoy’s line about happy families being alike, the chances that affluent children grow up to be affluent are broadly similar across metropolitan areas.

There are interactive maps and other goodies at that link, please be sure to check it out.  One phrase that is used a lot in the article is “income mobility”

…earlier studies have already found that education and family structure have a large effect on the chances that children escape poverty. Other researchers, including the political scientist Robert D. Putnam, author of “Bowling Alone,” have previously argued that social connections play an important role in a community’s success. Income mobility has become one of the hottest topics in economics, as both liberals and conservatives have grown worried about diminished opportunities following more than a decade of disappointing economic growth. After years of focusing more on inequality at a moment in time, economists have more recently turned their attention to people’s paths over their lifetimes.

I will leave any commentary on this article to Dr. Dak.

Since I’ve got a link here from the New York Times, you will find this next read intriguing: New York Times Quotes 3.4 Men for Every Woman | The Jane Dough

When the New York Times broke the absolutely shocking news on Sunday that many college-aged women like to have sex, some ladies called for an end to “women’s stories” that do nothing but foster “worry” about women in society. However, before completely dismissing this genre of journalism, we need to realize that these “women’s stories” are some of the only stories where women are actually being quoted and being heard.

In January and February of this year, University of Nevada Las Vegas students Alexi Layton and Rochelle Richards, under the guidance of their professor Alicia Shepard, scoured the 325 front-page stories published in the New York Times and found that the paper quoted male sources 3.4 times more frequently than female ones. Even in areas that are perceived to be more female-dominated — style, arts, education, health, etc. — male sources vastly outnumbered female ones.

Perhaps this phenomenon shouldn’t be surprising since men continue to dominate newsrooms and the Times is no exception. Of the 325 stories published on the front page, 214 were written by men (65.8 percent); their stories mentioned four times as many male sources as female sources. Female reporters perpetuated the bias as well; of the 96 stories written by women, men were quoted twice as frequently as women. So, as Amanda Hess at Slate pointed out, “hiring more female reporters could help lift the Times’ sourcing ratio from terrible to just bad.”

Yup, more at the Jane Dough link…go read it.

Hey, down here in Georgia a Democrat has announce she is running for Saxby’s seat:

Michelle Nunn Enters 2014 Georgia Senate Race

How Michelle Nunn puts pressure on Georgia Republicans

Gee, I can only hope she has a chance…but I know how strong the redneck vote is, I mean how strong the red GOP vote is within the state.

Now for a few links that are more along the lines of special interest, or just plain non-newsy reads to start your day off right.

Fort Tells of Spain’s Early Ambitions

In the Appalachian foothills of western North Carolina, archaeologists have discovered remains of a 16th century fort, the earliest one built by Europeans deep in the interior of what is now the United States. The fort is a reminder of a neglected period in colonial history, when Spain’s expansive ambitions ran high and wide, as yet unmatched by England.

If the Spanish had succeeded, Robin A. Beck Jr., a University of Michigan archaeologist on the discovery team, suggested, “Everything south of the Mason-Dixon line might have become part of Latin America.” But they failed.

Researchers had known from Spanish documents about the two expeditions led by Juan Pardo from the Atlantic coast from 1566 to 1568. A vast interior seemed open for the taking. This was almost 20 years before the failure of the English at Sir Walter Raleigh’s “lost colony” near the North Carolina coast or their later successes in Virginia at Jamestown in 1607 and at Plymouth Rock in 1620 — the “beginnings” emphasized in the standard colonial history taught in American schools.

One of Pardo’s first acts of possession, in early 1567, was building Fort San Juan in an Indian town almost 300 miles in the interior, near what is known today as the Great Smoky Mountains. It was the first and largest of six forts the expedition erected on a trail blazed through North and South Carolina and across the mountains into eastern Tennessee. At times Pardo was following in the footsteps of Hernando de Soto in the 1540s.

Pardo was ordered to establish a road to the silver mines in Mexico…without maps or a true understanding of the New World’s geography, the belief at the time was that the Appalachians where the same mountain range that ran through central Mexico.

After years of searching, archaeologists led by Dr. Beck, Christopher B. Rodning of Tulane University in New Orleans and David G. Moore of Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C., came upon what they described in interviews as clear evidence of the fort’s defensive moat and other telling remains of Fort San Juan. The discovery in late June was made five miles north of Morganton, N.C., at a site long assumed to be the location of an Indian settlement known as Joara, where military artifacts and burned remains of Spanish-built huts were also found.

While excavating a ceremonial Indian mound at the site, the archaeologists encountered different colored soil beneath the surface. Part of the fort’s defensive moat had been cut through the southern side of the mound. Dr. Beck said that further excavations and magnetometer subsurface readings showed that the moat appeared to extend more than 70 to 100 feet and measured nearly 12 feet wide and 6 feet deep, in a configuration “typical of European moats going back to the Romans.”

In the area north of Banjoville, up into North Carolina they have found Spanish conquistador artifacts along the rivers, like helmets and various swords and axes and other weapons that have been dated back to de Soto. Also, some of the Indian tribes mention the Spanish visitors in their stories. Furthermore, many of the Spaniards settled in the area with the Cherokee Indians as well.  There’s some interesting history in these mountains, that’s for dang sure!

This next link is to a picture gallery: Broken dreams: Walker Evans’s 1930s Americana

New York molls, Negro churches and the barbershop home of Perfecto Hair Restorer … this enchanting series of photographs shows us 1930s America through the eyes of photographer Walker Evans as he travelled from Alabama to New York City, documenting life during the Great Depression. His images earned him the first solo exhibition ever to be held at MoMA in New York. Now, 75 years later, they’re back on public view, in Walker Evans American Photographs, which runs until 26 January 2014

Walker Evans: 42nd Street, New York, 1929

42nd Street, New York, 1929

And finally, what would all this history stuff be without a bit of Medieval nuggets thrown in?

Religious and Cultural Boundaries between Vikings and Irish: The Evidence of Conversion

Clare Downham

The March in the Islands of the Medieval West, Brill Academic Publishers, November 16 (2012)

Abstract

The Scandinavian migrations of the early Viking Age imprinted in European minds anenduring image of vikings as marauding heathens. As descendants of these ‘salt water bandits’ settled into their new homes, they adopted traits from their host cultures. One such trait was the adoption of Christianity. This was perhaps the biggest change whichaffected vikings in a colonial situation as it entailed a new system of belief and way of understanding the world. Vikings in Ireland have often portrayed as late converts, with christian ideas only taking hold over a century after vikings settled in the island. Nevertheless in this paper I seek to argue that vikings of Dublin began to adopt christianity at an early stage, although the process of conversion was protracted and possibly uneven across social ranks. The stereotype of Hiberno-Scandinavians as staunch heathens may need revision.

Ninth-century literature from Ireland expresses fear of vikings as slave-raiders and heathens. It was not however until the eleventh century that vikings ‘burst onto the Irish literary stage’ by which time (as Máire Ní Mhaonaigh has demonstrated) astereotype of heathen, plundering vikings had evolved which did not always reflectcontemporary realities. It is in accounts from the eleventh century and later that we get colourful descriptions of heathen activity linked with ninth-century vikings, for example the satirical account of the ‘druid’ Ormr who is hit by a stone and foretells his imminent death, or Auða, the wife of the viking leader Þórgísl, who was said to issue prophecies while seated on the altar at Clonmacnoise. These accounts were on the one hand meant to be entertaining, but on the other they were intended as negative publicity for contemporary viking groups which helped to justify their subjection to Irish kings.

To read the paper in full click the link here: The March in the Islands of the Medieval West

On the subject of Moons: The Night the Moon exploded and other Lunar tales from the Middle Ages

medieval moon

The Moon in the Nuremberg Chronicles

When writing about the events of the the year 1178 in his Chronicle, Gervase of Canterbury interrupts his account of kings and wars to relate a very unusual occurrence in the night sky:

This year on the 18th of June, when the Moon, a slim crescent, first became visible, a marvellous phenomenon was seen by several men who were watching it. Suddenly, the upper horn of the crescent was split in two. From the mid point of the division, a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out over a considerable distance fire, hot coals and sparks. The body of the Moon which was below, writhed like a wounded snake. This happened a dozen times or more, and when the Moon returned to normal, the whole crescent took on a blackish appearance.

This account has puzzled modern astronomers – some suggest that the monks saw an asteroid crashing into the moon, while others believe that it was a meteorite that had entered the Earth’s atmosphere at just the right spot – between the monks and the moon – making the observers believe that what they saw was happening on the moon.

For the monks who saw this phenomenon this event would be very worrying indeed. For medieval people the moon was an ever-present, fascinating and mysterious object. The moon not only brought light to the night sky, but it also marked the passage of time and could determine the personality of man or woman.

That particular blog post is full of cool things and drawings go read it because you will be amazed at some of the advanced discoveries during a time known as the “dark ages.”

Ooof, this post turned out longer than I had planned. Hope you have a great day, stay cool and please let us know what you are reading and thinking about this morning.


DNC Live Blog: Day 3

Here we go . . . This is the last night of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. We can only hope the speeches will be as thrilling as the ones we heard last night.

Tonight Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama will accept their nominations to run for reelection. In addition, there will be a who slew of celebrity appearances, including Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, The Foo Fighters, Eva Longoria, Mary J. Blige, James Taylor, Earth Wind & Fire, Marc Anthony, and Kerry Washington. Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will lead the pledge of allegiance.

At 8:00, former Florida Governor Charlie Crist will speak. At 10:00, we’ll hear from Eva Longoria, Joe Biden, and President Obama. The rest of the night’s schedule has not been released.

Just a few headlines to get you going:

Amanda Marcotte: Sandra Fluke’s Speech Made Republicans Crazy. Which Is Just What the Democrats Want.

For a short period yesterday evening, a moment of panicked confusion broke out among those of us obsessively watching and tweeting the Democratic National Convention, when Sandra Fluke did not go on stage as scheduled. It turns out that we needn’t have worried; convention organizers made an apparently last minute decision to move Fluke’s speech to later in the night, giving her a prime-time audience. It’s a move that indicates Democrats have finally stopped freaking out at the first sign of reactionary histrionics, and instead have embraced the strategy of taking the fight to conservatives.

After decades of playing along with conservatives who dress up their hostility to female sexuality as nothing more than an interest in “life,” Democrats have finally realized that baiting the anti-choice right into showing its misogynist, sex-phobic side may just be a winning strategy.

Marcotte posts some of the rageful Republican tweets at the link.

HuffPo: Unions Hope Democratic National Convention Draws Attention To Plight Of North Carolina Workers

North Carolina passed right-to-work legislation in 1947, barring contracts that require all workers at unionized companies to pay union dues. North Carolina is now the least-unionized state in the country, with about 3 percent of workers belonging to one, according to the Labor Department. The state also bans collective bargaining for public-sector workers. Feeling snubbed, some activists skipped the convention in favor of what was billed as a “shadow convention” for organized labor in Philadelphia.

“This entire saga, from the beginning to today ­– the site selection, the state selection — the way it’s been handled is just nothing more than confirmation to me that the standing of organized labor in the eyes of the Democratic Party is lower than it’s ever been in my time,” said Chris Townsend, political director of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America union, who has been in the labor movement for more than three decades.

CNN Money: Is Wall Street Being Bamboozled by Romney?

FORTUNE — Wall Street is taking quite a pounding at the Democratic National Convention this week as speakers, like Massachusetts Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren, fire populist missives so inflammatory it would cause even the most liberal banker to cringe. While the speeches are meant to fire up the Democratic base, they are also likely to induce some financiers to double their contributions to Republicans, namely, Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

But is that a safe bet? Much of Wall Street’s concerns derive from the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, even though some of the most controversial aspects of the bill seem permanently lost in regulatory limbo. Going forward, there remain questions as to what, if anything, a Romney Presidency could truly deliver in the next four years that would be so different from a second term Obama presidency. Given that uncertainty, Wall Street could possibly be better off sticking with the devil they already know.

New York Observer: We Can All Breathe a Sigh of Relief: Mitt Romney Has a Plan to End the Housing Crisis

Is Mitt Romney really the man to solve the housing crisis? Well, consider this: Mr. Romney may not have ever struggled “to put food on the table” as folksy politicians are so fond of saying, but he has four houses. Four. So he knows a thing or two about home ownership. And, unlike some homeowners who took out mortgages and couldn’t pay them back, Mr. Romney is wealthy enough not to have to take out mortgages (although there’s a possibility that he did—the man does have the common touch, at times).

In any event, the Republican candidate has revealed his four-point plan while taking a few swings at Obama, like: “the dream of home ownership is out of reach for many Americans as a result of President Obama’s failed policies and stalled economy.”

Because Americans were doing so well with home ownership before Mr. Obama took the helm. Ha! Good one! As though the “stalled economy” and, well, the “economic crisis” weren’t a result of the fact that many Americans were actually really horrible when it came to assessing risk and making responsible choices about home ownership.

The consensus is that it’s not much of a “plan.”

ABC News: Paul Ryan Anticipates and Counters Obama’s Convention Speech Tonight

COLORADO SPRINGS–Just hours before the president takes the stage at the Democratic National Convention, Paul Ryan attempted to counter Obama’s speech by reminding voters in this battleground state of then candidate Obama’s promises in his 2008 speech in Denver.

“Right here in Colorado, four years ago with the Styrofoam Greek columns, the big stadium, the president gave this long speech with lots of big promises,” Ryan said. “He said … that Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress. By those very measurements, his leadership has fallen woefully short.”

Yawn. . . Lots more of Lyin’ Ryan’s psychic predictions at the link. Frankly, after the spanking he got from Bill Clinton last night, the little twerp would do better to just STFU; but I’m hoping he continues making a fool of himself. I guess he doesn’t know that he has lost all credibility with everyone but obsessive Fox watchers.

Detroit News: Conservatives Pull Ads from Michigan

Mitt Romney’s conservative allies are bypassing Michigan with their advertising while stepping up efforts in other battleground states — suggesting campaign strategists don’t believe his road to the White House leads through his native state.

The pro-Romney groups American Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity are pouring nearly $13 million into advertising in key states, indicating they remain eager to lend considerable financial muscle to Romney in states viewed as truly competitive.

There are no presidential campaign ads of any kind airing in Pennsylvania and Michigan, according to information provided by media trackers to the Associated Press.

Nate Silver: The Simple Case for Why Obama Is the Favorite

…our forecast has moved toward President Obama over the past several days. It now gives him about a three-in-four chance of winning the Electoral College on Nov. 6.

I’ll explain a little bit more about how the model comes to that conclusion in a moment, but the intuition behind it is pretty simple:

1. Polls usually overrate the standing of the candidate who just held his convention.
2. Mitt Romney just held his convention. But he seems to have gotten a below-average bounce out of it. The national polls that have come out since the Republican National Convention have shown an almost exact tie in the race.
3. If the polls overrate Mr. Romney, and they show only a tie for him now, then he will eventually lose.
The first point is the simplest of all, but perhaps the most important. There is a lot of focus on the bounce that a candidate gets after his convention — that is, how the polls conducted just after the convention compare with the ones taken immediately beforehand.

Silver predicted the 2008 election results almost perfectly.

I’m looking forward to reading your comments tonight, so bring it!