Thursday, May 29, 2008


Craig Crawford: Among the myths surrounding the Democratic fight over seating delegates from Florida and Michigan, one that stands out is a persistent inference that Barack Obama was somehow involuntarily kept off the Michigan primary ballot. . . It was the Illinois senator's written and personally signed request to the Michigan Secretary of State's office on Oct. 8, 2007, that prompted his exclusion. Obama's choice to stay off the ballot was a conscious political maneuver designed to please Iowa Democrats angered by Michigan's early primary date. Clinton, to her detriment in Iowa, chose to stay on Michigan's ballot. As strange as some of Clinton's demands might seem to be in this matter, it would be truly bizarre to give any Michigan delegates to a candidate who voluntarily took his name off the ballot.

BOSTON GLOBE Does Dunkin' Donuts really think its customers could mistake Rachael Ray for a terrorist sympathizer? The Canton-based company has abruptly canceled an ad in which the domestic diva wears a scarf that looks like a keffiyeh, a traditional headdress worn by Arab men. Some observers, including ultra-conservative Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin, were so incensed by the ad that there was even talk of a Dunkin' Donuts boycott. . . The company at first pooh-poohed the complaints, claiming the black-and-white wrap was not a keffiyeh. But the right-wing drumbeat on the blogosphere continued and by yesterday, Dunkin' Donuts decided it'd be easier just to yank the ad

With eight months left in President Bush's term, scores of senior officials already are heading for the exits, leaving nearly half the administration's top political positions vacant or filled by temporary appointees, federal statistics show. More than 200 pending nominations are languishing on Capitol Hill, bogged down in political fights between Democrats and the White House. At the same time, agencies have begun preparing for a new administration, including plans to temporarily install career employees in senior positions at the Department of Homeland Security during the transition. The White House also has taken the unusual step of ordering federal agencies to stop proposing regulations -- meaning that new rules on issues including greenhouse gases and air-traveler protection are unlikely to be finalized before Bush leaves office. Washington Post

TONY NEWMAN, HUFFINGTON POST Courtland Milloy of the Washington Post wrote a heart-breaking story that exemplifies the wasteful and counterproductive way our society deals with illegal drug use. Mr. Milloy talks about Frances Johnson, a 68-year-old grandmother in Washington, D.C. who faces eviction simply because her grandson was arrested for possessing a small amount of marijuana. The federal government's public housing system has a "one strike and you're out" policy for any drug law violation -- even if that violation occurs miles away from home. . . The New York Civil Liberties Union released a report earlier this month that found 83 percent of those charged with marijuana possession over the last 10 years are black or Latino even though federal surveys show that whites are more likely to use pot. If you are poor and live in public housing, your whole family is punished for a drug offense--even for smoking a joint. But if you are middle class and do not rely on public housing or other benefits it is a "personal" issue. Despite our arresting a staggering 800,000 people for marijuana last year, marijuana is as easily available as ever -- to find some, just inquire around your local high-school.

Students in public schools have math scores that are just as good if not better than those of students in private schools, according to a new national study. The research focused across several years on 9,791 kindergarten through fifth-grade students. "These data provide strong, longitudinal evidence that public schools are at least as effective as private schools in boosting student achievement," said researcher Christopher Lubienski of the University of Illinois. Combined with other, yet-unpublished studies of the same data, which produced similar findings, "we think this effectively ends the debate about whether private schools are more effective than publics," said Lubienski, whose research has dealt with all aspects of alternative education. This is important, he said, because many current reforms, such as No Child Left Behind, charter schools and vouchers for private schools, are based on the assumption that private schools offer better education than public schools. . . Unlike literacy, math is viewed as being less dependent on a student's home environment and more an indication of a school's effectiveness, Sarah Lubienski said. Live Science

Three UC Berkeley students will drive across India in an event called the Rickshaw Run this June, despite parental disapproval, warnings from the event's Web site that roads may be "terrible and non-existent" and the knowledge that at least one team has been arrested while competing in a previous race. Seniors Sonny Sabhlok and Brian Wong and junior Allen Rodriguez, who is an employee of The Daily Californian, will have just over two weeks to travel the 2,400 mile route from Nepal to the south of India in a doorless, three-wheeled autorickshaw roughly the size of a golf cart. They will be the youngest team making the journey to Pondicherry, India. . . The event is organized by the British company the Adventurists. To participate, teams must raise at least $2,000 before the race to be donated to charity. The company offers no support or guidance beyond providing teams with their rickshaws and training them for one day. Teams plan their own route and cover all their own costs. . . According to event manager Lamorna Trahair, the Rickshaw Run generally raises a total of about $177,000, which goes to two charities in India. Daily Californian

Taking popular painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen could lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, a study has found. The research, published in the journal Neurology, suggests that people who took NSAIDs, the drug group which aspirin and ibuprofen belong to, have a more than 20 per cent reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's. Telegraph, UK

Two monkeys have been trained to eat morsels of food using a robotic arm controlled by thoughts that are relayed through a set of electrodes connecting the animal's brain to a computer, scientists have announced. The astonishing feat is being seen as a major breakthrough in the development of robotic prosthetic limbs and other automated devices that can be manipulated by paralysed patients using mind control alone.Scientists eventually plan to use the technology in the development of prosthetics for people with spinal cord injuries or conditions such as motor neurone disease, where total paralysis leaves few other options for controlling artificial limbs or wheelchairs. They hope one day to develop robotic machines that feel like a natural extension of the human body, which would enable the technology to be adapted for a wide variety of purposes, from driving a car to operating a fork-lift truck. Reuters

The production of traditional books rose 1% in 2007, to 276,649 new titles and editions, but the output of on-demand, short run and unclassified titles soared from 21,936 in 2006 to 134,773 last year, according to preliminary figures released by R.R. Bowker. The combination of the two categories results in a 39% increase in output to 411,422.

A thunderstorm knocked out the power to her home, shutting off the massive metal machine that had helped her breathe for nearly 60 years. It was about 3 a.m. when the electricity went out at Odell's home in Jackson, a small Tennessee town about 90 miles northeast of Memphis. An emergency generator did not start, and Odell died as her father and brother-in-law took turns pumping the iron lung manually. Dianne Odell, 61, was believed to be the nation's oldest survivor of polio to have spent almost all of her life inside an iron lung. She had been confined within the 7-foot-long, 750-pound machine ever since she was paralyzed at the age of 3 by bulbospinal polio. That was in 1950, just a few years before a polio vaccine was discovered.. . . Using a voice-activated computer, she wrote a children's book about a tiny star that wanted to be a wishing star. She even helped out with local political campaigns, making phone calls for state senators. LA Times



At May 30, 2008 6:16 AM, Anonymous robbie said...

CRAIG CRAWFORD: one that stands out is a persistent inference that Barack Obama was somehow involuntarily kept off the Michigan primary ballot.

Who the HELL ever said that?? In the months it's been since before the primaries I have never heard that even suggested. It's always been clear that Obama, along with most of the other candidates, voluntarily removed his name from the ballot. Maybe Crawford should think of a new career.

At May 30, 2008 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be truly bizarre for anyone to get any Michigan delegates considering that both Michigan and Clinton knew perfectly well what the penalty was for holding an early primary in violation of party rules. Hillary and the entire state knowingly violated those rules after having been informed of the consequences. This entire discussion is ridiculous.


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