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Monday, August 03, 2015

From Gregg Herken, author of The Winning Weapon: The Atomic Bomb in the Cold War: 1. The Bomb ended the war. 2. The Bomb saved 500,000 American lives. 3. The only alternative to using The Bomb was an invasion of Japan. 4. The Japanese were warned before The Bomb was dropped. 5. The Bomb was timed to gain a diplomatic advantage over Russia and proved a "master card" in early Cold War politics. Herkin writes, "The notion that the atomic bombs caused the Japanese surrender on Aug. 15, 1945, has been, for many Americans and virtually all U.S. history textbooks, the default understanding of how and why the war ended. ... The latest and best scholarship on the surrender, based on Japanese records, concludes that the Soviet Union's unexpected entry into the war against Japan on Aug. 8 was probably an even greater shock to Tokyo than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima two days earlier." read more


Police stepped in to stop protests escalating as hundreds of people gathered at Stone Mountain in Georgia this weekend to celebrate the Confederate flag. A police officer was forced to step in as one pro-Confederate attendee reached for his holstered gun while facing off with a anti-Confederate protester who had burned the flag. Stone Mountain is the site where the second Klu Klux Klan (KKK) was formed in 1915. read more


Jonathan Martin, New York Times: It may be the Summer of Trump, but the publicity-hungry real estate magnate is not the only Republican presidential candidate relishing all his attention. Donald Trump's surge in the polls has been met with barely concealed delight by Jeb Bush and his supporters. Trump's bombastic ways have simultaneously made it all but impossible for those vying to be the alternative to Bush to emerge, and easier for Bush, the former Florida governor, to position himself as the serious and thoughtful alternative to a candidate who has upended the early nominating process. With little indication that his support is slipping and the promise of the center stage at Thursday's debate, Trump has essentially frozen the rest of the field. read more


A 9-year-old bat boy died Sunday in the hospital after getting hit in the head with a bat by a baseball player taking practice swings in Kansas a day earlier. The Liberal Bee Jays, an amateur baseball team, said Kaiser Carlile was wearing a helmet when he was struck during a National Baseball Congress game against the San Diego Waves in Wichita Saturday afternoon. A witness told NBC affiliate KSNW that the boy was running to bring back a bat after an out when he was hit by a batter taking a practice swing. read more


Sunday, August 02, 2015

A Florida man attempted to chew off his fingerprints while in a patrol car to avoid being identified by the police. Kenzo Roberts, stopped by police in a stolen vehicle, was using a fake ID, had a concealed firearm and possessed three fraudulent credit cards, police alleged. Surveillance video shows Roberts unsuccessfully trying to bite off his own fingerprints.


Raunchy comedy is having a rough run at the box office. Vacation became the fourth R-rated comedy of the summer to receive the cold shoulder from a wide audience, after Entourage, Magic Mike XXL and Ted 2. Brooks Barnes of the New York Times writes, "[S]tudios remain focused on young ticket buyers -- even though data from the Motion Picture Association of America indicates that older moviegoers are more loyal customers -- and that leads to raunchy comedies, especially at a time when the limits of tastefulness continue to be tested culturewide. Hollywood's top comedy writers and directors also tend to want to push boundaries: It's not cool to dream up PG-13 or PG jokes and scenarios."


The music of the Nicki Minaj song "Anaconda" has been turned into a protest song in India against toxic mercury contamination caused by a Unilever operated thermometer factory in the country. Rapper Sofia Ashraf of Chennai, India, wrote the song to call attention to the conditions that led to the deaths of 45 workers and 12 of their children, according to Huffington Post India. The song promotes an online petition that states, "Malarkodi was exposed to mercury poisoning, along with a thousand others at Unilever's Kodaikanal thermometer assembly plant. The factory operators did not give its workers any protective equipment or information about the disastrous impact that mercury has on health. ... The workers cannot afford private healthcare. They have been fighting for Unilever to clean up the toxic contamination and compensate them for their medical expenses as a result of mercury for many long years." read more


Donald Trump is staking his run for U.S. president in part on a vow to protect American jobs. But this month, one of his companies, the elite Mar-a-Lago Club resort in Florida, applied to import 70 foreign workers to serve as cooks, wait staff and cleaners. A Reuters analysis of U.S. government data reveals that this is business as usual in the New York property magnate's empire. Trump owns companies that have sought to import at least 1,100 foreign workers on temporary visas since 2000, according to U.S. Department of Labor data reviewed by Reuters. Most of the applications were approved, the data show. Nine companies majority-owned by Trump have sought to bring in foreign waitresses, cooks, vineyard workers and other laborers on temporary work-visa programs administered by the Labor Department.


A turkey living on the University of Michigan's North Campus has captured the attention of students, staff and police for the past month. The bird has been spotted roaming the open campus' wooded areas, chasing passers-by and even attempting to board buses. "He hasn't hurt anybody, but he's a very aggressive bird," University of Michigan Police Department deputy chief Melissa Overton said. "Do not try to approach the turkey. We've gotten calls from people who have been trapped and unable to move because he's cornered them."


Two Michigan men are facing criminal charges after they went to a house party with their friend, woke up to find she was dead and allegedly left her there without telling anybody. Austin C. Carruthers, 22, and another man and woman went to the party on March 25 with Heather Jo Campau, 25. "Campau went to bed. Some point later, (the other man) woke up, knew she was dead, could tell by looking at her she was dead, felt her and could tell she was dead, got Carruthers up, and they basically took off and left her there," Bay County Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Stroud said. "They did not contact authorities." The woman later awoke, discovered Campau and called 911. An autopsy determined that Campau died of alcohol intoxication.


Three days after being critically wounded by an ultra-Orthodox man that went on a stabbing rampage at Jerusalem's Gay Pride Parade, Shira Banki, a 16-year-old Israeli teen succumbed to her wounds Sunday afternoon. Police confirmed that the suspected stabber is Yishai Schlissel, a Haredi man who stabbed three participants in the 2005 Gay Pride march. Banki was a high-school student from Jerusalem, studying at the Hebrew University High School. She took part in Thursday's parade to show solidarity with her LGBT friends. In a statement issued Sunday, her family said: "Our magical Shira was murdered because she was a happy 16-year-old -- full of life and love -- who came to express her support for her friends' rights to live as they choose."


A hitchhiking robot whose travels drew fans across the globe has been killed just two weeks into a tour of the U.S. The Canadian researchers who created hitchBOT as a social experiment said that someone in Philadelphia damaged the robot beyond repair early Saturday. The robot is immobile on its own, relying on a series of strangers to discover it and take it closer to its desired destination. The creators were sent a photo of the vandalized robot Saturday but couldn't track its location because the battery is dead. "Unfortunately, hitchBOT was vandalized overnight in Philadelphia; sometimes bad things happen to good robots," the creators announced on the hitchBOT site. read more


In the strongest action ever taken in the United States to combat climate change, President Barack Obama will unveil on Monday a set of environmental regulations devised to sharply cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from the nation's power plants and ultimately transform America's electricity industry. "Climate change is not a problem for another generation, not anymore," Obama said in a video posted on Facebook Saturday. He called the new rules "the biggest, most important step we've ever taken to combat climate change." read more


Saturday, August 01, 2015

New York Times: Fewer than four hundred families are responsible for almost half the money raised in the 2016 presidential campaign, a concentration of political donors that is unprecedented in the modern era. The intensifying reliance on big money in politics mirrors the concentration of American wealth more broadly. In an era when a tiny fraction of the country's population has accumulated a huge proportion of its wealth, the rich have also been empowered by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and other regulatory changes to spend more on elections. read more


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