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Thursday, April 24, 2014

A man driving a Tesla Model S decided that a scenic spot on California's Pacific Coast Highway was a good place to get naked, stand up out of his sunroof and work on his martial arts regimen. An official at Pacific Palisades Fire Station 69 told the local Palisadian-Post that the man in question had a "meltdown or psychiatric episode or was on a controlled substance." You don't say. Michael Ballaban of Jalopnik writes, "Maybe this is what happens when you run out of charge." read more


More video has emerged of Cliven Bundy's slavery remarks, and they now include a bit about "the Spanish people" -- by whom Bundy appears to mean undocumented Hispanic immigrants. The Nevada rancher actually seems quite fond of them. "I understand that they come over here against our Constitution and cross our borders," he said. "But they're here and they're people. I worked side-by-side a lot of them. Don't tell me they don't work, and don't tell me they don't pay taxes. And don't tell me they don't have better family structures than most of us white people. When you see those Mexican families, they're together. They picnic together. They're spending their time together. I'll tell you, in my way of thinking, they're awful nice people. We need to have those people join us and be with us."


On Wednesday, the conservative group Americans for Prosperity retracted a TV ad in Colorado that used a photograph of a grim-faced Democratic Sen. Mark Udall standing alongside a tense President Barack Obama. The spot blamed Udall for cancellation of nearly 335,000 health insurance policies in Colorado under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the blame-laying being the second element in the GOP' election season one-two punch. The problem is the photograph was taken two days after the July 2012 mass shootings at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, when Udall and Obama visited a hospital to console the injured and families of the victims. read more


Two plainclothes Philadelphia police officers responding to a report of gun shots Tuesday night confronted a 20-year-old man in a hoodie, then shot him three times after he got in his car and drove towards them. "We are getting information that he is a pizza deliveryman, so it is a possibility he may have thought he was being robbed," deputy police commissioner Richard Ross said. Philippe Holland is at the University of Pennsylvania hospital in critical condition. Ten shots were fired into the car, sources told CBS Philadelphia. "The officers ... at no time said they saw a gun," Ross said.


John Cassidy, The New Yorker: It's been almost 50 years since Richard Nixon settled on his "Southern strategy" of mobilizing white voters alienated by civil-rights reforms. Almost the same amount of time has elapsed since the John Olin Foundation and other conservative groups set out to rein in the nation's courts, and, in particular, the Supreme Court, which had played a key role in expanding the civil-rights agenda. Both of these efforts reflected a broad-based backlash, overwhelmingly white, that Lyndon Johnson, Patrick Moynihan, and others foresaw quite clearly during the 1960s. Partly for demographic reasons, however, the political backlash eventually ran out of steam. ... In some parts of the country, though, and especially in the realm of the law, the backlash is still thriving, and Tuesday was one of its best days yet. read more


The principle that all Internet content should be treated equally as it flows through cables and pipes to consumers looks all but dead. The Federal Communications Commission said on Wednesday that it would propose new rules that allow companies like Disney, Google or Netflix to pay Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon for special, faster lanes to send video and other content to their customers. The proposed changes would affect what is known as net neutrality -- the idea that no providers of legal Internet content should face discrimination in providing offerings to consumers, and that users should have equal access to see any legal content they choose.


During an event at the University of Tennessee's law school on Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia suggested to the capacity crowd that perhaps they should revolt against the U.S government if their taxes ever get too high. A student asked Scalia about the constitutionality of a federal income tax. Scalia assured the questioner that the tax was in fact permissible by the constitution, but added that if it ever became too high, "perhaps you should revolt."


Capital in the Twenty-First Century, at first glance, seems an unlikely candidate to become a best-seller in the U.S. After all, it's 700 pages long, translated from French, and analyzes centuries of data on wealth and economic growth. But the book, from economist Thomas Piketty, is now No. 1 on Amazon.com's best-seller list, thanks to rave reviews and positive word of mouth. Beyond that, however, the book has something else going for it: Capital has hit a nerve with Americans with its message about income inequality. read more


Dutch fighter jets scrambled Wednesday to intercept a pair of Russian military aircraft that entered their airspace, a fairly routine action that comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and NATO, a Dutch official said. Maj. Wilko Ter Horst said that the military learned around 3:50 p.m. that two Russian TU-95 bombers had come a half-mile inside its airspace. A pair of Dutch F-16 military jets were then dispatched to escort the Russian planes and "ensure they (flew) out of our airspace," said Ter Horst, a Dutch military spokesman.


Republicans -- including possible 2016 candidate Rand Paul -- are scrambling to distance themselves from defiant Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy after he made startling comments about slavery and African-Americans in a New York Times article published Wednesday night. After Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) called Bundy and his allies "domestic violent terrorist wannabes," fellow Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R) countered last week that they are "patriots." A spokesman for Heller told the Times that the senator "completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy's appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way."


At least 40 U.S. veterans allegedly died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were allegedly placed on a secret waiting list. The scheme avoided VA internal rules that require timely treatment, typically within a 14- to 30-day period. Dr. Sam Foote, who just retired after 24 years with the VA in Phoenix, said there's an "official" list shared with Washington that shows the VA has been providing timely appointments, and the real list that's allegedly hidden from outsiders, where wait times can allegedly last more than a year. "[T]he only record that you have ever been there requesting care was on that secret list," he said. "And they wouldn't take you off that secret list until you had an appointment time that was less than 14 days so it would give the appearance that they were improving greatly the waiting times, when in fact they were not."


It's the end of an era for a popular line of guitars made in Connecticut. Fender's Ovation guitars have been played by some well-known music legends, but the factory in New Hartford that makes them is shutting its doors and leaving dozens out of work. Employees such as Sam Ash in New Haven have just a few Ovations left in stock. "I'm disappointed. I think as a performance guitar they were excellent. they sounded great. and it's going to leave a little gap," Jordan West, of New Hartford, said. "U.S. production of Fender acoustic and Guild instruments will transition to other facilities at a later date, while domestic production of U.S.-made Ovation instruments will cease," Vintage Guitar reports. read more


Nevada welfare rancher Cliven Bundy made some racially charged comments about government assistance in his daily news conference Saturday, according to a New York Times story published Wednesday. "I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro," the rancher began as he described a "government house" in Las Vegas where he recalled that all the people who sat outside seemed to "have nothing to do." read more


Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) has signed legislation expanding where people with licenses to carry can bring their guns in Georgia. The bill makes several changes to state law. It allows those with a license to carry to bring a gun into a bar without restriction and into some government buildings that don't have certain security measures. It also allows religious leaders to decide whether it's OK for a person with a carry license to bring a gun into their place of worship. And school districts would now be able, if they want, to allow some employees to carry a firearm under certain conditions.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Christian Science Monitor: High school junior Antonia Ayres-Brown wrote on Slate this week about her challenge to McDonald's to end its unofficial practice of asking children whether they want a boy or girl toy with their meal. Beyond fast food, retailers continue to pressure millions of kids into conforming to gender stereotypes through their toy choices, and there is mounting consumer dissatisfaction spurring groups to stand up against the gender barriers of toys. To some it may sound like shopping sacrilege, but the campaign to Let Toys Be Toys in the U.K. and several campaigns in the U.S. -- all founded by concerned parents -- want to eliminate the color-coded shopping aisles in favor of toy gender anarchy. Let Toys Be Toys is a UK-based group launched in 2012 "asking retailers to stop limiting children's imaginations and interests by promoting some toys as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys," according to its website.


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