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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Minnie Minoso, Chicago's first black major league baseball player who became one of the White Sox's greatest stars, died Sunday morning. Minoso was found unresponsive in the driver's seat of a car near a gas station in Chicago around 1 a.m. There were no signs of trauma and Minoso was pronounced dead at the scene. His son said the family believes Minoso died from a heart condition he had suffered. Minoso's age was listed as 90, but there was some question about whether he was born in 1922 instead of 1925. read more


David Coates, Huffington Post: In general Republican thought, poverty is not something caused by society into which some people are unfortunate enough to fall. Rather, poverty is something people fall into by their own failures, and it is also something that they can leave behind by climbing the ladder of success. If poverty persists, the argument goes, it is not because that ladder is somehow absent but because poverty persists whenever political and social conditions conspire to prevent a sufficient number of people from climbing the ladder of success with all the levels of skill and vigor necessary to the task. No matter what Republicans claim, you cannot make the American dream a reality for the mass and generality of Americans by simply creating more ladders that reach up to the privileged few. You can only make the American dream a reality for the mass and generality of Americans by raising the floor on which the ladders are actually set. read more


The Nobel medal awarded to the economist Simon Kuznets in 1971 sold Thursday night on the auction block for $390,848. This was the first medal to sell in the field of economics, and one of only a handful of the 889 medals awarded since 1901 ever to have been sold. The actual medallion, made of 23-karat gold, is worth about $8,700. Kuznets, who died in 1985 at the age of 84, helped lay the foundation of the modern field of economics by creating standard measures of national income and economic growth. His 83-year-old son, Paul, a retired economist, sold the medal in 2013.


Rep. Aaron Schock lives large and loudly on Instagram, where he broadcasts his exploits from the Greek Isles to the glaciers of Patagonia. The Illinois Republican is shown surf boarding in Hawaii, doing the tango in Buenos Aires and parasailing in the Andes. The 33-year-old Republican from Peoria has visited at least nine foreign countries since the start of 2014, sometimes on government business and sometimes for pleasure, a Chicago Tribune review found. Last year, he took in three national music awards programs, hitting gala performances in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Nashville. read more


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Just two days after a 75-vehicle pileup injured at least 17 people in the state, lawmakers in Maine are considering legislation that would allow adults to opt out of wearing seat belts. "It's very unfortunate timing that we're discussing this particular legislation two days after the 75-car pileup that took place on I-95," said the bill's Republican sponsor, state Sen. Eric Brakey. He said people should wear seat belts, but said it should not be mandatory because "government exists to protect us from each other, not to protect us from ourselves."


Patrick J. Buchanan: Scores of thousands of troops will be needed to defeat and destroy ISIS in Syria. And eradicating ISIS is but the first of the wars Republicans have in mind. ... Listen for long to GOP foreign policy voices, and you can hear calls for war on ISIS, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, the Houthi rebels, the Assad regime, the Islamic Republic of Iran, to name but a few. Are we to fight them all? How many U.S. troops will be needed? How long will all these wars take? What will the Middle East look like after we crush them all? Who will fill the vacuum if we go? Or must we stay forever?


Like many kids her age, 8-year-old Gabi Mann from Seattle has an interesting collection of treasures. A yellow bead, one blue earring, a tiny light bulb, a paperclip and a rusty screw. But unlike many kids her age, Gabi didn't collect these treasures herself. They were brought to her by crows. Yes, you read that right. Like Cinderella, Gabi has bird friends that bring her gifts on a regular basis. read more


Senator Rand Paul won a straw poll of conservative activists on Saturday, giving his potential bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 a boost, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came in second. The results were Paul at 25.7 percent, Walker at 21.4 and Texas Senator Ted Cruz with 11.5. Mitt Romney won the straw poll in 2012.


Nancy LeTourneau, Washington Monthly: Wisconsin has been cutting taxes, curbing unions, expanding private school vouchers and rejecting hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding. Minnesota has been raising taxes, empowering unions, legalizing same-sex marriage and embracing Obamacare. Wisconsin is getting its most conservative governance in decades. Minnesota is getting its most liberal governance in decades. Two years after the tax hike, Minnesota's economy is booming. The state added 172,000 jobs during Gov. Mark Dayton's (D) first four years in office. Its 3.6 percent unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country (Wisconsin's is 5.2 percent), and the Twin Cities have the lowest unemployment rate of any major metropolitan area. Under Dayton, Minnesota has consistently been in the top tier of states for GDP growth. Median incomes are $8,000 higher than the national average. In 2014, Minnesota led the nation in economic confidence, according to Gallup. read more


Kelly Renee Gissendaner, a 46-year-old Georgia woman scheduled to be executed Monday for arranging the murder of her husband, has become pen pals with one of the world's most prominent theologians. Jurgen Moltmann, whose books on hope, suffering and liberation have helped define postwar Protestant thought, believes her life should be spared by clemency. In four years, they have exchanged 20 to 30 letters, he said from his home in Germany. "I have found her very sensitive, and not a monster, as the newspapers depicted her. And very intelligent. ... She has changed her mind, and her life." read more


The Gainesville Tornados, a high school basketball team in Texas, sometimes play with zero fans in attendance because they're a juvenile correction facility. Two players for Vanguard Prep in Waco did something unusual and asked some of their fans to root for the other team. The idea took off and the Gainesville players took the court to the shock of seeing their own fan section, signs and cheerleading squad. read more


Late Friday, Congress passed a one-week temporary funding measure for the Department of Homeland Security. Earlier in the day, a three-week funding bill failed 203 to 224 in the House -- and that was exactly what Speaker John Boehner had promised would not happen with a Congress under GOP control. The failed vote caused Boehner to take hits from his own side as well as the Democrats. "The Republican Congress has shown that it simply cannot govern," said Senate minority leader Harry Reid, saying the country was "staring a Homeland Security shutdown square in the face, even as terrorists around the world threaten to strike America."


A high school senior in Plainville, Massachusetts, has been indicted for involuntary manslaughter for allegedly urging a friend to commit suicide. Michelle Carter, 18, is accused of urging Conrad Roy III, 18, to kill himself before he died of carbon monoxide poisoning while idling a truck last July in the parking lot of a Fairhaven Kmart. Police found text messages from Carter on Roy's cellphone allegedly encourging him to go through with suicide. read more


Molly Ball, The Atlantic: Everywhere Hillary Clinton goes, a thousand cameras follow. Then she opens her mouth, and nothing happens. Clinton made a much-ballyhooed appearance in Iowa over the weekend, giving a speech widely noted for its substancelessness. She "had no explicit message of her own," Politico noted, while The Economist pronounced it "underwhelming." MSNBC's Joe Scarborough was so frustrated by Clinton's lack of verve that he went on an extended rant about it, proclaiming, "I know her and like her, but she puts on that political hat and she's a robot!" read more


Even though the Jewish population in Mumbai has declined dramatically over the past several decades -- from a peak of 30,000 in the late 1940s to some 3,500 today -- it is still the largest Jewish community in India. But for decades there was only one person in Mumbai, and the entire state of Maharashtra of which Mumbai is a part, who engraved Jewish tombstones: a devout Muslim named Muhammad Abdul Yassin. On a recent visit, I found Yassin sitting in his cement hut on the southern end of Mumbai's Jewish cemetery, surrounded by smooth marble and granite slabs -- soon to be used for headstones -- and the tools of his trade, hammers and chisels of various sizes. He has come here every day except Friday, the Muslim special day of prayer, for more than 40 years, rain or shine. read more


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