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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 51,749

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“Now we’re going to go for the big enchilada, which is Hillary.”

“Now we’re going to go for the big enchilada, which is Hillary.”

— Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), quoted by the Baltimore Sun, reflecting on being the first female Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in her own right.

More enchilada:

Hilarious video captures just how terrible daylight saving time really is:

The GOP has written Iran to say they'll tear up any deal Tehran signs with Obama.

A group of 47 Republican senators has written an open letter to Iran's leaders warning them that any nuclear deal they sign with President Barack Obama's administration won’t last after Obama leaves office.

Organized by freshman Senator Tom Cotton and signed by the chamber's entire party leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the letter is meant not just to discourage the Iranian regime from signing a deal but also to pressure the White House into giving Congress some authority over the process.

“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system … Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement,” the senators wrote. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

Arms-control advocates and supporters of the negotiations argue that the next president and the next Congress will have a hard time changing or canceling any Iran deal -- -- which is reportedly near done -- especially if it is working reasonably well.


"American Exceptionalism"


The more Black people in a state, the more restrictive their voting system.

Much of the extant literature has mainly been focused on voter ID laws; but Vandewalker and Bentele find that the strategy is actually more expansive than that. They have created an extensive metric that includes nine different measures of accessibility, including voter ID, absentee voting and same-day registration. They find that the accessibility of voting systems is negatively correlated with the share of the state’s population that is black (see chart). As the black population increases, voting systems become more inaccessible. The chart below includes all changes that were passed in the legislature; as of writing some of the changes were stalled in court.


The study finds that between 2006 and 2012, the most influential factor in determining whether a law would be passed was Republican control of government. It also finds that the level of anti-black stereotyping in a state (a measure based on survey respondents’ beliefs about work ethic and intelligence) strongly correlates with the proposal (though not the passage) of voting restrictions. Vandewalker and Bentele find that states with a recent increase in Democratic turnout were more likely to pass a restriction indicating “the passage of voter restrictions as a partisan response by Republicans to recent Democratic electoral gains.” States with large black populations were significantly more likely to pass restrictive laws. Finally, they note that what little voter fraud exists does not correlate at all with voter restrictions.


An elite minority of superstitious high priests

This is apparently the cover of the Guardian tomorrow:


DEA Agent: We Were Told Not to Enforce Drug Laws in Rich White Areas

Fogg makes explicit comparisons between the so-called “War on Drugs” and literal military wars. He also draws attention to the overt racist and classist nature of the decades-long internal “war” (emphases mine):

We’re talking about Gotham city. … We were jumping on guys in the middle of the night, all of that, swooping down on folks all across the country, using these sort of attack tactics that we went out on, that you would use in Vietnam, or some kind of war-torn zone. All of the stuff that we were doing, just calling it the war on drugs.

And there wasn’t very many black guys in my position. So when I would go into the war room, where we were setting up all of our drug and gun and addiction task force determining what cities we were going to hit, I would notice that most of the time it always appeared to be urban areas.

That’s when I asked the question, well, don’t they sell drugs out in Potomac and Springfield, and places like that? Maybe you all think they don’t, but statistics show they use more drugs out in those areas (rich and white) than anywhere.

The special agent in charge, he says “You know, if we go out there and start messing with those folks, they know judges, they know lawyers, they know politicians. You start locking their kids up, somebody’s going to jerk our chain.” He said they’re going to call us on it, and before you know it, they’re going to shut us down, and there goes your overtime.

What I began to see is that the drug war is totally about race. If we were locking up everybody, white and black, for doing the same drugs, they would have done the same thing they did with prohibition. They would have outlawed it. They would have said, “Let’s stop this craziness. You’re not putting my son in jail. My daughter isn’t going to jail.” If it was an equal enforcement opportunity operation, we wouldn’t be sitting here anyway.

It’s all about fairness, man. And understanding “How would I want to be treated?” Whether I’m on the one end, or the other end. How would I be treated if everything was done equally?


Dear Rudy:

This is what a man who actually loves America looks like:

Beautiful Bird!

Swiss pilots to attempt first around-the-world solar flight
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will take turns piloting the single seater Solar Impulse 2 plane that is propelled solely by the sun

......some of the advances made for the project have real-world uses today.

“To fly with the sun, day and night, we had to build an aircraft that is extremely energy efficient. These technologies that provide energy efficiency can be used in your home, in your car, in the appliances that you buy,” he said.

The four motors that power the aircraft generate about half the power of a motorcross bike. But unlike conventional engines they lose only 3% of their energy through heat. The standard loss, says Borschberg, an engineer, is around 70%. According to the International Energy Agency, energy efficiency is the single cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions across the world.

“With these technologies we can cope with a major part of the challenge we are facing today in terms of energy, environment, pollution, natural resources and so on,” says Borschberg.


Attention is a resource; a person has only so much of it.

The Cost of Paying Attention

Attention is a resource; a person has only so much of it. And yet we’ve auctioned off more and more of our public space to private commercial interests, with their constant demands on us to look at the products on display or simply absorb some bit of corporate messaging. … they’ve opened up a new frontier of capitalism … to monetize every bit of private head space by appropriating our collective attention. In the process, we’ve sacrificed silence … And just as clean air makes it possible to breathe, silence makes it possible to think.

…. The benefits of silence are off the books. They are not measured in the gross domestic product, yet the availability of silence surely contributes to creativity and innovation.

… If clean air and water were no longer the rule, the economic toll would be enormous. This is easy to grasp, and that is why we have regulations to protect these common resources. We recognize their importance and their fragility. We also recognize that absent robust regulations, air and water will be used by some in ways that make them unusable for others. (Ya think?)

A notable feature of many formerly Communist countries is the apparent absence, or impotence, of any notion of a common good. Self-serving party apparatchiks have been replaced by (or become) quasi-free market gangsters. Many citizens of these countries live in the environmental degradation that results when economic development is left to such interests, with no countervailing force of public-spiritedness. We in the liberal societies of the West find ourselves headed toward a similar condition with regard to the resource of attention, because we do not yet understand it to be a resource.

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