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New particle called quantum droplet discovered

In the field of quantum physics, you could call this a droplet in the bucket.

Physicists in Germany and the United States said on Wednesday they have discovered an exotic new type of particle that they call a quantum droplet, or dropleton.

Writing in the journal Nature, they said it behaves a bit like a liquid droplet and described it as a quasiparticle — an amalgamation of smaller types of particles.

The discovery, they added, could be useful in the development of nanotechnology, including the design of optoelectronic devices. These include things like the semiconductor lasers used in Blu-ray disc players.


Evidence of Concealed Jailhouse Deal Raises Questions About a Texas Execution

In the 10 years since Texas executed Cameron Todd Willingham after convicting him on charges of setting his house on fire and murdering his three young daughters, family members and death penalty opponents have argued that he was innocent. Now newly discovered evidence suggests that the prosecutor in the case may have concealed a deal with a jailhouse informant whose testimony was a key part of the execution decision.

The battle to clear Mr. Willingham’s name has symbolic value because it may offer evidence that an innocent man was executed, something opponents of the death penalty believe happens more than occasionally. By contrast, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote seven years ago that he was unaware of “a single case — not one — in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit.”

Mr. Willingham was convicted on charges of setting the 1991 fire in Corsicana, Tex., that killed his three children, and was sentenced to death the next year. The conviction rested on two pillars of evidence: analysis by arson investigators, and the testimony of a jailhouse informant, Johnny Webb, who said that Mr. Willingham had confessed the crime to him.

The arson investigation has since been discredited; serious questions were raised about the quality of the scientific analysis and testimony, which did not measure up to the standard of science even at the time. But the prosecutor who led the case shortly before Mr. Willingham’s execution argued that even though the arson analysis had been questioned, the testimony of Mr. Webb should be enough to deny any attempt for clemency.



Hey, Washington! The Pay Is Too Damn Low: The Minimum-Wage War

By Tim Dickinson

Nearly five years into the recovery from the Great Recession, the American economy remains fundamentally broken. Inequality is getting worse: Ninety-five percent of income gains since 2009 have gone to the top one percent of earners. Private employers have added more than 8 million jobs, but nearly two-thirds are low-wage positions. The American worker's share of the national income is as low as it's been in the six decades since World War II. But even as most Americans struggle just to tread water, corporate profits have soared to record highs.

Worse: The bottom rung of the economy is growing crowded; 3.8 million Americans – the equivalent population of the city of Los Angeles – now labor at or below the minimum wage. And that wage itself has lost more than 12 percent of its value since it was last hiked to $7.25 in 2007, due to inflation. In a more prosperous era, the stereotype of a minimum-wage worker was a teenager flipping burgers, earning a little beer money on the side. But in the new American economy, dominated by low-wage service jobs, fewer than one in four minimum-wage workers are teens. More than half are 25 or older. "The demographics have shifted," says Rep. George Miller, ranking Democrat on the House labor committee. "These are now important wage earners in their families."

As a matter of public policy, the solution is obvious. There are few government interventions that can match the elegance of a higher minimum wage. It boosts the fortunes of the working poor and the economy at large, with minimal trade-offs. Raising the minimum wage does little or nothing to dampen job growth. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that an increase to $10.10 would trim payrolls by less than one-third of one percent, even as it lifts nearly 1 million Americans out of poverty.

Outside of Washington, D.C., raising the minimum wage is not a partisan issue. Supported by more than 70 percent of Americans, the policy achieves both liberal and conservative goals: It alleviates poverty even as it underscores the value of hard work. It reduces corporate welfare even as it lessens dependence on the social safety net. Today, taxpayers are shelling out nearly $250 billion a year on welfare programs for the working poor. Nearly 40 percent of food stamps are paid out to households with at least one wage earner.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/hey-washington-the-pay-is-too-damn-low-the-minimum-wage-war-20140227

Cracks force closure of $60 million Texas High School Football Stadium

ALLEN, Texas -- A $60 million Texas high school stadium that got national attention for its grandeur and price tag will be shut down indefinitely 18 months after its opening, school district officials said Thursday.

Eagle Stadium in the Dallas suburb of Allen will be closed until at least June for an examination of "extensive cracking" in the concrete of the stadium's concourse, the district said in a statement Thursday. The closure will likely affect home games at the stadium this fall, the district said.

Ben Pogue of Pogue Construction, which built the stadium, told reporters that the cracks range from a quarter-inch to three-quarters of an inch wide.

"There are concerns surrounding the stadium, but we have been -- for a long time -- part of the solution," Pogue said, according to the Dallas Morning News. "I'm optimistic that we're going to have a quick resolve to this that will not affect the football season that's coming up."

Built in 2012 as part of a $120 million bond issue, Eagle Stadium seats 18,000 people and sports a 38-foot-wide video board. Eagle Stadium's opening was a moment of triumph for the community of Allen, a fast-growing Dallas suburb that has become home to a high school football powerhouse. The Eagles won the Class 5A Division I state championship last year.


Unpopular parties can still prevail

By Steve Benen

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the Justice Department, on Jan. 17, 2014 in Washington, DC.
The latest New York Times/CBS News poll offers Democrats some good news and some bad news. It’s worth pausing to appreciate how the former affects the latter.

First, consider the news Dems will be eager to hear. The public generally agrees with Democrats on the major issues of the day – immigration, minimum wage, health care, and marriage equality – and on more general topics such as compromise, economic inequality, how best to reduce the deficit, and the value of social-insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security. The same poll found Democrats are more popular than Republicans and more in line with voters’ priorities.

Then consider the news Democrats won’t like at all:

Those stances among voters have not translated into support for the president’s party, as 42 percent say they will back Republicans in November, and 39 percent indicate that they will back Democrats, a difference within the poll’s margin of sampling error.

I imagine Democratic officials would find this quite frustrating. They enjoy the edge on pretty much every possible question, right up until poll respondents were asked who they intend to vote for – and the answer is, the more unpopular party, which the mainstream disagrees with on nearly everything, is the one with more support.

Of course, it leads to a fairly obvious question: if Republicans are more unpopular; voters disagree with them on nearly everything; the GOP has no accomplishments or agenda to speak of; and they’re responsible for the ridiculous government shutdown just a few months ago, how is it that they have the edge over Democrats when it comes to the midterm elections?



Hundreds Of American Companies Pay Employees As Little As 23 Cents An Hour

By Jonathan Wolfe,

When you think of prison labor, what comes to mind? You might envision inmates making license plates and highway signs or cleaning up road debris. For decades, this perception would have been roughly accurate. Using prison labor in the private sector was illegal, so inmates worked on public projects.

But this dynamic changed dramatically in 1979 with the passing of the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIE). PIE made it legal for private sector companies to contract prison labor to produce goods.

Ever since then, corporations have turned to prison labor at an ever-increasing rate to make their products. At a time when unemployment remains high and millions of Americans look for work, American corporations are capitalizing on America’s sky-high incarceration rates by using inmates to make their products.

The dynamic is a corporation's dream – inmates make as little as 23 cents an hour, never show up late for work, and don’t demand benefits or time off. These inmates don’t account for some small percent of manufacturing production, either.



Friday TOON Roundup 5 - The Rest







Friday TOON Roundup 4 - Military Cutbacks

Friday TOON Roundup 3 -Russia and Ukraine

Friday TOON Roundup 2- Bigots

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