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Friday, September 21, 2012

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Today in History

454   In Italy, Aetius, the supreme army commander, is murdered in Ravenna by Valentinian III, the emperor of the West.
1327   Edward II of England is murdered by order of his wife.
1520   Suleiman (the Magnificent), son of Selim, becomes Ottoman sultan in Constantinople.
1589   The Duke of Mayenne of France is defeated by Henry IV at the Battle of Arques.
1673   James Needham returns to Virginia after exploring the land to the west, which would become Tennessee.
1745   A Scottish Jacobite army commanded by Lord George Murray routs the Royalist army of General Sir John Cope at Prestonpans.
1863   Union troops defeated at Chickamauga seek refuge in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is then besieged by Confederate troops.
1904   Exiled Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph dies of a "broken heart".
1915   Stonehenge is sold by auction for 6,600 pounds sterling ($11,500) to a Mr. Chubb, who buys it as a present for his wife. He presents it to the British nation three years later.
1929   Fighting between China and the Soviet Union breaks out along the Manchurian border.
1936   The German army holds its largest maneuvers since 1914.
1937   The women's airspeed record is set at 292 mph by American pilot Jacqueline Cochran.
1941   The German Army cuts off the Crimean Peninsula from the rest of the Soviet Union.
1942   British forces attack the Japanese in Burma.
1944   U.S. troops of the 7th Army, invading Southern France, cross the Meuse River.
1978   Two Soviet cosmonauts set a space endurance record after 96 days in space.
1989   General Colin Powell is confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Non Sequitur


Is Portland really where young people retire?

By Jonathan J. Cooper

Portland may not be "a city where young people go to retire," but it's the place they go to be underemployed, a new study found. A famous quip by Fred Armisen on the television show "Portlandia" led Portland State University researchers to investigate the reality behind the comment. The quirky IFC network series pokes fun at the Oregon city's many eccentricities.
The researchers' review found that Portland is a magnet for the young and college educated from across the country, even though a disproportionate share of them are working part-time or holding jobs that don't require a degree.
In short, young college grads are moving here, and staying, because they like the city's amenities and culture, not because they're chasing jobs. Their participation in the labor force tracks with other cities, but they make 84 cents on the dollar when compared to the average of the 50 largest metropolitan areas, the research found.
"You put all of that together, and it suggests that young people are coming here and they're trying to make the best of it," said Greg Schrock, an assistant professor in urban studies at Portland state. "They're committed to working, they're committed to trying to make ends meet, but they're more committed to living in Portland."
Young people are drawn by a relatively low cost of living, a vibrant arts scene and a collegial, laid-back atmosphere. With abundant public transit, a vibrant bicycle culture and many walkable neighborhoods, there's no need for a car.
"I'm pretty content being able to support myself on a minimum-wage job," said Deanna Horton, 22, who graduated in May from Lewis & Clark college in Portland and is now working the front desk at a science museum. Horton doesn't have a driver's license, but she said the only time she's ever felt she needed one was when she moved across town.
A transplant from Syosset, N.Y., on Long Island, Horton said she'd love to have a more challenging and fulfilling job — but not enough to give up on a city that supports things like a neighborhood tool library, which gives residents free access to a wide variety of tools for carpentry, home improvement and gardening.
"I feel like my job prospects in other places would be really good," she said, looking over the top of her Apple computer at the popular Stumptown Coffee. "But I don't want to try."
Portland's reputation as the place young people go to retire was cemented with a sketch on "Portlandia."
The Portland State researchers studied Census data from 1980 to 2010 with a focus on young people, ages 21 to 39, with a college degree. They found that the migration of those people to Portland had already begun in 1980 and was consistent throughout the 20-year span. Portland was the only major city that never saw a lull in migration, even during recessions.
The data suggest that young people continue flocking to Portland, in good times and in bad.
And they're coming from places large and small. While young college graduates tend to move to larger metro areas, Portland had a net gain in migration from cities large and small.
The researchers found that Portland is indeed a popular place to retire. Not for young people, but for empty-nesters and retirees, whom Portland attracts and retains at a higher rate than similar cities.
But will it continue?
The researchers don't know for sure. Portland clearly has a powerful draw for the young graduates, but the cost of living that makes it possible for them to live here may not continue forever. The rental vacancy rate has plummeted, so rent is rising, and not everyone is willing to live in a place with a weak labor market.
"There's a very select group of migrants that would be able to work through those challenges financially," said Jason Jurjevich, an assistant professor of urban studies.

Has US economy bottomed out?

Census suggests yes 

By Hope Yen
FILE - In this June 13, 2012, file photo, a job seeker talks to a recruiter at a job fair expo in Anaheim, Calif. The U.S. economy is showing signs of finally bottoming out: Americans are on the move again after record numbers had stayed put, more young adults are leaving their parents' homes to take a chance with college or the job market, once-sharp declines in births are leveling off and poverty is slowing. Not all is well. The jobless rate remains high at 8.1 percent. Home ownership dropped for a fifth straight year to 64.6 percent, the lowest in more than a decade, hurt by more stringent financing rules and a shift to renting. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The U.S. economy is showing signs of finally bottoming out: Americans are on the move again after record numbers had stayed put, more young adults are leaving their parents' homes to take a chance with college or the job market, once-sharp declines in births are leveling off and poverty is slowing. New 2011 census data being released Thursday offer glimmers of hope in an economic recovery that technically began in mid-2009. The annual survey, supplemented with unpublished government figures as of March 2012, covers a year in which unemployment fell modestly from 9.6 percent to 8.9 percent.
Not all is well. The jobless rate remains high at 8.1 percent. Home ownership dropped for a fifth straight year to 64.6 percent, the lowest in more than a decade, hurt by more stringent financing rules and a shift to renting. More Americans than ever are turning to food stamps, while residents in housing that is considered "crowded" held steady at 1 percent, tied for the highest since 2003.
Taken as a whole, however, analysts say the latest census data provide wide-ranging evidence of a stabilizing U.S. economy. Coming five years after the housing bust, such a leveling off would mark an end to the longest and most pernicious economic decline since World War II.
"We may be seeing the beginning of the American family's recovery from the Great Recession," said Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University. He pointed in particular to the upswing in mobility and to young men moving out of their parents' homes, both signs that more young adults were testing out job prospects.
"It could be the modest number of new jobs or simply the belief that the worst is over," Cherlin said.
Richard Freeman, an economist at Harvard University, said the data point to a "fragile recovery," with the economy still at risk of falling back into recession, depending in part on who is president and whether Congress averts a "fiscal cliff" of deep government spending cuts and higher taxes in January. "Given the situation in the world economy, we are doing better than many other countries," he said. "Government policies remain critical."
The census figures also show slowing growth in the foreign-born population, which increased to 40.4 million, or 13 percent of the U.S. population. Last year's immigration increase of 400,000 people was the lowest in a decade, reflecting a minimal gain of Latinos after many Mexicans already in the U.S. opted to return home. Some 11 million people are estimated to be in the U.S. illegally.
The bulk of new immigrants are now higher-skilled workers from Asian countries such as China and India, contributing to increases in the foreign-born population in California, New York, Illinois and New Jersey.
Income inequality varied widely by region. The gap between rich and poor was most evident in the District of Columbia, New York, Connecticut, Louisiana and New Mexico, where immigrant or minority groups were more numerous. By county, Berkeley in West Virginia had the biggest jump in household income inequality over the past year, a result of fast suburban growth just outside the Washington-Baltimore region, where pockets of poor residents and newly arrived, affluent commuters live side by side.
As a whole, Americans were slowly finding ways to get back on the move. About 12 percent of the nation's population, or 36.5 million, moved to a new home, up from a record low of 11.6 percent in 2011.
Among young adults 25 to 29, the most mobile age group, moves also increased to 24.6 percent from a low of 24.1 percent in the previous year. Longer-distance moves, typically for those seeking new careers in other regions of the country, rose modestly from 3.4 percent to 3.8 percent.
Less willing to rely on parents, roughly 5.6 million Americans ages 25-34, or 13.6 percent, lived with Mom and Dad, a decrease from 14.2 percent in the previous year. Young men were less likely than before to live with parents, down from 18.6 percent to 16.9 percent; young women living with parents edged higher to 10.4 percent, up from 9.7percent.
The increases in mobility coincide with modest improvements in the job market as well as increased school enrollment, especially in college and at advanced-degree levels.
Marriages dipped to a low of just 50.8 percent among adults 18 and over, compared with 57 percent in 2000. Among young adults 25-34, marriage was at 43.1 percent, also a new low, part of a longer-term cultural trend in which people are opting to marry at later ages and often cohabitate with a partner first.
Births, on the other hand, appeared to be coming back after years of steep declines. In 2011, the number of births dipped by 55,000, or 1 percent, to 4.1 million, the smallest drop since the pre-recession peak in 2008, according to Kenneth Johnson, a sociology professor and senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire. More recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also show that once-precipitous drops in births are slowing.
"There are signs that young adults have turned a corner," said Mark Mather, associate vice president at the Population Reference Bureau. "More young adults are staying in school, which will increase their potential earnings when the job market bounces back. It's going to take some time, but we should see more young adults entering the labor force, buying homes and starting families as economic conditions improve."
While poverty slowed, food stamp use continued to climb. Roughly 14.9 million, or 13 percent of U.S. households, received food stamps, the highest level on record, meaning that 1 in 8 families was receiving the government aid. Oregon led the nation at 18.9 percent, or nearly 1 in 5, due in part to generous state provisions that expand food stamp eligibility to families making 185 percent of the poverty level — roughly $3,400 a month for a family of four. Oregon was followed by more rural or more economically hard-hit states, including Michigan, Tennessee, Maine, Kentucky and Mississippi. Wyoming had the fewest households on food stamps, at 5.9 percent.
Government programs did much to stave off higher rates of poverty. While the official poverty rate for 2011 remained stuck at 15 percent, or a record 46.2 million people, the government formula did not take into account noncash aid such as food stamps, which the Census Bureau estimates would have lifted 3.9 million people above the poverty line. If counted, that safety net would have lowered the poverty rate to 13.7 percent. And without expanded unemployment benefits, which began expiring in 2011, roughly 2.3 million people would have fallen into poverty.
Some 17 states showed statistically significant increases in the poverty rate, led by Louisiana, Oregon, Arizona, Georgia and Hawaii. Among large metropolitan areas, McAllen, Texas, led the nation in poverty, at 38 percent, followed by Fresno, Calif., El Paso, Texas, and Bakersfield, Calif. In contrast, the Washington, D.C., metro area had the lowest level of poverty, about 8 percent, followed by Bridgeport, Conn., and Ogden, Utah.
"There are signs among all these measures that the multiple downsides of the Great Recession have bottomed out, which is good news especially for young people who have seen their lives put on hold," said William H. Frey, a demographer at Brookings Institution. "There is some light at the end of the tunnel."

Forty repugican senators vote to kill the Vets Job Bill

A motion before the Senate this morning that would waive budgetary discipline (because the bill was fully funded) failed to pass and killed S. 3457: Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012, sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). The final tally was 58 to 40, and all 40 opponents of the proposal were Republicans.
What had been, up until Sen. Session’s objection, a bi-partisan bill, quickly became a partisan exploitation of a technicality to deny thousands of veterans a shot at getting hired as police officers, firefighters and parks workers, among other things.

Did you know ...

That oddly enough, Romney does better in robot polls

Here's a breakdown of who the 47% are

That the newest popemobile is electric

And why not adopt a skull?

Democrats ahead in Senate polls, repugicans freaking out over RomneyShambles

WaPo reports that Democrats are ahead in three key Senate races:
The latest Marquette Law School poll of the Wisconsin Senate race shows Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) leading former governor Tommy Thompson (r) , 50 percent to 41 percent, a sharp turnabout from a mid-August survey that showed the Republican ahead by the same margin...

A Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll released Wednesday showed Baldwin tied with Thompson, after trailing by 6 points last month...

A race that does not appear to be tightening is the one in Virginia, where former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine has built a lead in two new polls, one from the Washington Post and another from Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS. Kaine leads former senator George Allen (R) by 8 percentage points in the former survey and 7 in the latter. 
In Massachusetts, where Sen. Scott Brown (r) seemed to do everything right this summer, four polls released this week showed Democrat Elizabeth Warren holding a slight lead. One pollster characterized the boost in support for Warren as a post-convention bounce.
Nate Silver says the odds are now in the favor of Democrats holding control of the Senate:
Democrats are now favored to retain control of the Senate when the new Congress convenes in January, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast, breaking a summer stalemate during which control of the chamber appeared about equally likely to go either way.

An unusually large number of Senate races remain competitive, meaning that a wide range of outcomes are still possible. repugicans have about a 10 percent chance of winning a net of at least six seats from Democrats, according to the forecast, which would give them control of at least 53 seats next year. However, there is also about a 20 percent chance that Democrats could actually gain Senate seats on balance, giving them at least 54. The only thing that seems completely assured is that neither party will control enough seats next year to hold a filibuster-proof majority.

But the odds of a favorable overall outcome for Democrats have increased in recent weeks. The forecast model now gives them a 70 percent chance of controlling the chamber, either by having at least 50 seats and the presidency, or 51 without it.
And HuffPost reports that the r's are losing it over Romney's disaster of a campaign (and I wonder whether the Democrats' success at the state level isn't in part due to Romney as well):
The REPUGICANS STARTING TO FREAK OUT - Over the last few weeks, McLean doctors have been hit up for Xanax refills earlier than expected, Lexuses have been driven a bit more aggressively down 66 and children have been paid even less attention. And repugican strategists are LOSING IT.

Jon Ward: "Now it's repugicans who are frightened. Mitt Romney's recent troubles have created a sense of gloom, and a good dose of doom, in the repugican cabal...

'There's a feeling of almost that this thing's in free fall,' said a repugican consultant with deep experience on Capitol Hill and extensive contacts in the Romney campaign. 'When campaigns spend an enormous amount of time trying to figure out why they're broken, I don't know if they ever come back,' said this repugican, who like others who spoke about their frustration, did not want to be identified.

Another operative who has worked for the repugican cabal on many national congressional campaigns was blunt about his feelings. 'I'm pretty discouraged. The thing is, [Democrats] ran Jimmy Carter, and we answered with Thomas Dewey,' he said, referring to the Republican politician who lost presidential elections in 1944 and 1948. 'And it didn't have to be that way.'"

NYT's Nate Silver: "repugican Senate map is imploding." Chance of takeover now only 21 percent

From Nate Silver in the NYT

Romney's Party Animal Guy Has Bankrupted 28 Companies

He Co-Owns the Philadelphia 76ers
The host of a now infamous fundraiser at which Mitt Romney told donors that he thinks half of Americans depend on the government has a scandalous past.

Before hosting a May fundraiser for the Republican presidential candidate at his Florida home, Marc Leder, 50, hosted several debauched parties, according to the New York Post. The paper wrote about a "nude frolic" at one such party Leder hosted last summer at a rented home in Bridgehampton, N.Y.:

It was as if the Playboy Mansion met the East End at a wild party at private-equity titan Marc Leder's Bridgehampton estate, where guests cavorted nude in the pool and performed sex acts, scantily dressed Russians danced on platforms and men twirled lit torches to a booming techno beat.

Leder, who made his fortune as co-founder of the private equity firm Sun Capital, is linked to the darker side of private equity. Around 20 percent of companies that Sun Capital owns have filed for bankruptcy since 2008: 28 companies in all, including the restaurant chain Friendly's, according to The New York Times. Friendly's laid off 1,260 workers overnight when it filed for bankruptcy last year, according to Daily Finance.

Romney made controversial remarks at Leder's home in Boca Raton, Fla., on May 17, according to Mother Jones' David Corn, telling attendees that 47 percent of Americans are Obama voters who "believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it."

from www.philly.com - SIXERS CO-OWNER Marc Leder, at whose Florida home Mitt Romney remarked that 47 percent of the nation "believe that they are victims," is known to throw wild parties in the Hamptons, reports the New York Post.

The paper says "guests cavorted in a pool and performed sex acts, while scantily clad Russian women danced on platforms," at a rented home in Bridgehampton, N.Y., during a summer bash last year.

The Post said Leder went on something of a tear after his wife of 22 years, Lisa, cheated on him with her tennis instructor in 2009.

At the time of the Post's 2011 report about the divorced Leder's wild ways, the paper quoted a source who said: "So many girls think they're dating him. There are at least three that I know of."

Hip-hop/fashion mogul Russell Simmons; his ex-wife, Kimora Lee Simmons, and her new actor husband, Djimon Hounsou, have been guests at Leder's parties, but did not attend the Romney one.

Leder, who owns Sun Capital, a private-equity firm based in Boca Raton, Fla., went to the Wharton School. In 2011 he joined fellow Wharton grads Joshua Harris and David Blitzer to purchase the Sixers. Harris and Blitzer are co-managing owners with at least 10 other partners, including Will Smith, wife Jada Pinkett Smith and James Lassiter, Smith's longtime producing partner in Overbrook Entertainment, all of whom own much smaller stakes.

A Sixers spokesman said the team had no comment.

A woman who answered the phone at Sun Capital said there was nobody there who could discuss the Romney fundraiser, and a detailed email requesting comment was not answered Tuesday.

Ed Kilgore, writing over @ Washington Monthly, points out that, with the latest poll, Mitt Romney is probably holding his nose and saying "pew"

 Ed Kilgore, writing over @ Washington Monthly, points out that, with the latest poll, Mitt Romney is probably holding his nose and saying "pew":

It’s hardly the kind of definitive evidence we need to conclude Mitt Romney in the process of burying his presidential prospects, but there’s just no way for anyone to spin the new national pew research poll as anything other than really bad news for the repugican nominee. taken from September 12-16 (in other words, before the Boca moment video hit the airwaves), it shows Barack Obama opening up an 8-point lead among likely voters, while also topping 50%. if you want a real topline shocker: the same poll at this point in 2008 showed Obama and McCain even at 46%. if there’s been a poll this year showing Obama outperforming his 2008 numbers at any point whatsoever, I certainly don’t recall seeing it.

Pew’s analysis is very lengthy, and i haven’t had a chance to read, much less absorb and write about, it all. but for the moment, I’ll leave you with pew’s opening summary:

At this stage in the campaign, Barack Obama is in a strong position compared with past victorious presidential candidates. with an eight-point lead over Mitt Romney among likely voters, Obama holds a bigger September lead than the last three candidates who went on to win in November, including Obama four years ago. in elections since 1988, only Bill Clinton, in 1992 and 1996, entered the fall with a larger advantage.

But don't start popping the champagne corks just yet. as Ed points out, this poll could be an outlier.

As opposed to Mitt Romney himself, who is an out-and-out liar.

Roger Simon on Romney, devastating

Roger Simon of Politico is considered a bright guy, and opinion leader, here in DC.  He's quite good, as well.  For him to write this critical of an article about Romney and his campaign, is not good for Romney at all:
The Romney campaign is skidding along on its axles and scraping its muffler. Soon it will be down to the dog on the roof.
But as I have been saying for a while now, Mitt Romney is a deeply flawed candidate who got the Republican nomination by beating a ludicrously weak field. Don’t believe me?

You know who came in second? Rick Santorum. Newt Gingrich was third, and Ron Paul was fourth. That’s not a field; that’s a therapy group.
With its tunnel vision, the Romney campaign assumed an economic downturn would mean Americans would want to elect a businessman to the presidency.

Yet the economic downturn was caused in part by shady business practices, runaway greed and outright dishonesty at the highest reaches of America’s corporate community. Did Americans really want to elect the guy on the cover of the Monopoly box or throw him in jail?
And there is another thing that troubles me even though some dismiss it as trivial. I am still bothered by Romney attacking that gay kid and cutting off his hair with a pair of scissors when they were in prep school.

A ghetto kid does that and he gets booked for assault with a deadly weapon. But what does the son of a governor get? A law degree from Harvard.

Even Romney's top bundlers think he's going to lose

Mind you, this was last Friday - before 47%-gate. Politico:
The campaign is moving fast to calm nerves, especially among donors. To get a flavor of the challenge before them, a top donor said that after Romney spoke at a fundraising breakfast at the Hilton New York on Friday, a will-Mitt-win poll was taken at one table of 10 men, each of whom had paid at least $2,500 to attend, and some of whom had raised as much as $50,000 for the campaign. Not a single man said yes.
Politico also compiled an extensive list of all the repugicans who have criticized Romney in the past two weeks. Politico argues that this repugican criticism of Romney pretty much forces them to cover the in-fighting.
The constant flow of Romney criticism from conservatives. Many repugicans blame the media for the rash of bad stories. But it’s repugicans who have made the stories easy – actually, essential — to do. When the Wall Street Journal editorial page, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Rep. Tom Cole and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol are all publicly criticizing, the press has an obligation to write it. (And the list above is but a small sample of the on-the-record repugican Romney critics over the past two weeks. Click here for full listing).

This is a huge problem for Romney, his advisers say. In a flurry of phone calls, starting Sunday night, the Romney camp has tried to reassure its critics and donors but keeps hearing the same thing: “We will, if you get your act together.” The truth is conservatives never loved - and many don’t even like - Romney. But they bought into him as a vessel for their ambitions to defeat Obama, especially after Ryan was put on the ticket. Many on the right now are animated by a belief that Romney is turning Ryan into Romney, instead of Ryan turning Romney into a Ryan-style warrior for ideas.

If Romney does not move quickly to detail his war-of-ideas plan and adjust his rhetoric accordingly, conservative unhappiness could turn into a full revolt.
Actually, I'd argue the opposite. Romney is at his best when he's Mitt Romney, an uber-liberal repugican who's to the left of Ted Kennedy on gay rights.

And Romney is at his worst when he flip-flops all the over the place pretending to be a wingnut, when it's not entirely clear that he's even a repugican.

As for the 47% video, I'm not even sure what to make of it. It sure seems like he believes what he's saying. Unless, someone told him that these donors were conservatives so he should pretend he was wingnut during the talk. And Romney did his best wingnut impression, the way he sees wingnuts, cold and heartless.

But another part of me thinks we saw the real Romney in that video. As we posted yesterday, Romney's a heartless CEO whose only expertise is in making money for big business, not actually helping people, or even caring about them.
The mission of being a partner at Bain, or any large company, is so radically different from managing a country, so it shouldn't be a surprise that Romney's failing at evening running a presidential campaign. Bain's mission was less about creating jobs, and more about enriching Bain. If jobs came (or went) along the way, so be it. But like any other similar company, the goal was always about maximizing payouts for Bain, period.

The mission at Bain was to make money and lots of it. So a cold-hearted focus on money, not people (something that Romney excels at) was an asset, if not a pre-requisite for the job. Romney didn't need to listen to the little people in order to run Bain successfully, and he didn't have to care about them. In the end, it was all about making money for Bain and himself. He called the shots and there was no need to incorporate other views into his plans.

Running for office is completely different. Romney is now showing how little he understands about working with, and listening to, and caring about everyone, even the little people.
What Romney is - a faux liberal or a faux wingnut, he's proven himself just not up to the job of being the leader of the free world.

Romney proudly admits he's the "grandfather" of Obamacare

During an appearance at an Univision forum, Mitt Romney embraced President Obama's claim that Romney is the "grandfather of Obamacare." Politico:
The repugican even embraced the Obama administration’s claim that his Massachusetts health care reform plan made him “the grandfather of Obamacare.”

“I don’t think he meant that as a compliment but I’ll take it,” Romney said, adding that such a depiction was likely not “helpful” during the repugican primary.

Romney, responding to a question about whether he’d repeal Obama’s health care law, went on to tout his signature achievement in Boston with language that has irritated conservatives in the past.
And he even admits that he's changing his position from his position during the primaries, because it wasn't helpful at the time.  That's an odd public admission of his famous Etch-a-Sketch approach to flip flops.

Mind you, it was just nine days ago that Romney flip flopped 4 times in 24 hours on whether he'd fully repeal health care reform.  First he wasn't going to repeal the entire thing, then he was, then wasn't, then he was.

Now he's proud to be the grandfather of a law that he wants to repeal.  Ostensibly, because it might be "helpful" during the general election.

You know what else would be helpful during the general election?  For Romney to figure out who he is, and who he wants to be, before November 6.

Mitt Romney courts Latino vote by using skin bronzer - even his tan isn't sincere

Sr. Romney sporting his new day-laborer tan.
In his closest interaction with a room full of Latinos since that time he had to yell at the kitchen staff for spilling the good Bordeaux, Mitt Romney appeared in Florida on Wednesday at a Spanish-language forum on Univision.

His appearance was ironic, since he famously campaigned against bilingual education when running for governor of Massachusetts and during the repugican presidential primary, but that's beside the point.

Continuing a Romney campaign standard, most of Mitt's responses ignored specifics, instead opting to smooth out the harsh rhetoric seen during the circus that was the primary (Mexicano asado, anyone?).

While Romney continued his hard stance against the DREAM Act, he offered a conciliatory plan to let DREAM-eligible youth who serve in the military earn permanent status. Mitt attacked Obama's executive order granting undocumented youth legal status, calling it a “stop-gap measure,” but offered no other plan of his own.

Romney did indicate that he'd be in favor of Senator Marco Rubio's now-dead repugican version of the DREAM Act, which offers undocumented immigrants a chance at permanent status, but not citizenship -- we call it the Ream Act.

Speaking of immigration, the Univision forum hosts later pressed Mitt on his infamous "self-deportation" policy, with a clearly-flustered Mitt replying that he's not "going to round up people around the country and deport them."  "I believe people make their own choices as to whether they want to go home and that’s what I mean by self-deportation," he continued. "People decide if they want to go back to the country of their origin.”

Quite a stretch from his endorsement of Arizona's "Papers please" law at a repugican debate earlier this year.

Still, unlike Mitt, most Latino youth don't have the opportunity to self-deport to Paris when the going gets tough.

Most telling about Romney's appearance was his utterance of the pejorative "illegal aliens" when speaking about DREAM-eligible youth during the forum, perhaps forgetting that he was speaking to a room full of Latino Obama-voting victims who pay no taxes and don't care for their lives, and not the angry white bread voters of CPAC.

The Univision forum is unlikely to help Romney's polling, with Faux News' own Latino division finding that that only 14 percent of the group would vote for him, compared to a whopping 70 percent for President Barack Obama.  Of course, that's still better than the 0% of African-Americans who say they're voting for Romney.

Perhaps those lackluster numbers explain the generous use of face bronzer by Romney at the event.  (No one had the heart to inform Sr. Mitt that Latinos aren't orange.)

French magazine prints controversial cartoon of Muhammad

Just because they can legally print it, should they?
Even as a completely non-religious person, I fail to see how publishing something that millions of people find so offensive helps with anything besides corporate branding.

In light of the recent deadly attack in Libya, the timing is horrendous. It seems a little too easy for the magazine to publish something like this and let others pay the price for their marketing campaign.

NBC News:
France has temporarily closed its embassies and schools in 20 countries after a satirical magazine in Paris published insulting cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, a move it fears will add “fuel to the fire” of global tensions over an anti-Islam film.

“We have indeed decided as a precautionary measure to close our premises, embassies, consulates, cultural centers and schools,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman told Reuters. Riot police were also sent to the offices of the weekly magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
Nobody is arguing that a violent response to the offensive movie is rational, but it is pointless to create ill will, risk of life and financial loss that others will have to pay for this expected outcome. Sticking a thumb in someone's eye for no other reason than to make a point is obnoxious.

Poles help Belarus, recalling own repressive past

CORRECTION Poland Reforming Belarus
By Vanessa Gera 
Volha Starastsina saw no choice but to flush her work down the police station toilet.
That was the only place the Belarusian journalist could hide TV footage after being detained for interviewing people on upcoming elections in the repressive state.
Her risky independent journalism is part of a Polish-funded effort to get uncensored news to Belarusians, one of several projects Poland supports in a drive to encourage democratic change in its troubled eastern neighbor.
Poland has many reasons for wanting Belarus to embrace democracy, but it largely comes down to this: When Poland looks east, it sees its own past. The censorship, secret police spying and harassment of political opponents under authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko remind Poles of what Lech Walesa's Solidarity movement endured in the 1980s. Today's Polish government is led by many former Solidarity activists, and they want to give Belarusians the same kind of Western help that proved crucial in toppling their former Soviet-backed regime.

Suu Kyi awarded Congressional Gold Medal

The pro-democracy campaigner was awarded in 2008 but because of house arrest in Myanmar, she was unable to travel to the US for the ceremony. After years of seclusion, Myanmar has been making strong efforts to open up and work with Western governments. Having visited Myanmar and witnessed first hand the state of the country, I was admittedly unconvinced that they would follow through with promises of more openness. Seeing Suu Kyi in Washington gives me some level of hope that things may change over time.

Proof will be determined over many more years but this is good progress. The Guardian:
Aung San Suu Kyi has been presented with the US Congress' highest civilian honour at a ceremony in Washington, describing it as "one of the most moving days of my life."

The Burmese democracy campaigner was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2008 while under a 15-year house arrest for her peaceful struggle against military rule.

Her long-awaited visit to America finally provided an opportunity for her to receive the honour in person in Congress' most majestic setting, beneath the dome of the Capitol and ringed by marble statues of former presidents.

Random Celebrity Photo


When I went to Hollywood in 1927, the girls were wearing lumpy sweaters and skirts… I was wearing sleek suits and half naked beaded gowns and piles and piles of furs - Louise Brooks
When I went to Hollywood in 1927, the girls were wearing lumpy sweaters and skirts… I was wearing sleek suits and half naked beaded gowns and piles and piles of furs - Louise Brooks

A Tuesday Morning Bus Ride

busDenise Campbell of Winnipeg, Manitoba, saw some odd behavior in a public bus driver, and thought it was worth passing on to the community online forum. The driver pulled over at a corner that had no bus stop and got out. The passengers, many of whom took the same bus every day, were puzzled. The driver walked over to talk to a man who looked to be homeless. He was barefooted.
I first thought the driver was going to offer the man a ride until our driver took off his own shoes and gave them to the man on the sidewalk.

That is when I realized that the man the driver was chatting with was barefoot.  The bus was dead silent.  I think we were all stunned and speechless.  As we proceeded to our next stop, one of the passengers got up and said to the driver, that was the most amazing thing she had ever seen; and then she asked him, why did he do that?

The bus driver answered because he couldn’t stand the thought of that poor man walking without shoes.   Wow!  No judgement; it was just, “Here buddy you need these more than I do.”

Instinctively, People Are Generous

Contrary to popular and pessimistic thought, our gut instincts may lead us to be more helpful than selfish.  
helping hand

Woman Camouflaged into Vegetable Stand

Carolyn Roper
You can't buy everything at this vegetable stand. To promote Covert Affairs, a new TV show about the CIA, the UK TV network Really hired body paint artist Carolyn Roper to hide models in plain sight in London. You can view other photos from this project at the link | Artist's Website

Schools Unprepared For Pandemics

A survey of schools in 26 states found that fewer than half have adequate plans in place to deal with the next pandemic.  
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Schools Unprepared For Pandemics

The Science of Procrastination

The folks at ASAPScience break down what procrastination means. It's interesting! We'll tell you more about it later... maybe.  
Science of Procrastination: Gotta-See Video

The Copper King

heinzeAt a fairly young age, Frederick Augustus Heinze developed a process to smelt copper from low-grade ore before it was even brought to the surface. This enabled him to make lots of money from mines that were thought to be played out in the late 19th century. Heinze kept buying mines until his company, United Copper, became one of the biggest copper producers in Montana. His tactics weren't always totally ethical, even among mining magnates. Then he decided to try his hand at Wall Street.
In 1907, Heinze set out for New York, moved United Copper to 42 Broadway in Manhattan, and determined to prove that he could succeed in finance. Though he knew little about banking, he aligned himself with Charles W. Morse, a Wall Street speculator who controlled several large banks and owned a big piece of the Mercantile National Bank. Together, the two men served as directors of more than a dozen banks, trust companies and insurance firms.

Down the hall from Heinze at 42 Broadway, his two brothers, Otto and Arthur, had set up a brokerage firm, hoping they too could make their fortunes on Wall Street. Otto is believed to have come up with the scheme to corner the stock on United Copper by engaging in a short squeeze, where the Heinzes would quickly purchase as much United Copper stock as they could, hoping to drive up prices and leaving short sellers (who had bet the price of United Copper would drop) no one else to sell but to the Heinzes, who could then effectively name their price.
The scheme didn't work, but the fallout was bigger than anyone could have imagined. The events that followed, referred to as the Panic of 1907, eventually led to the creation of the Federal Reserve System to make sure that kind of financial collapse never happened again. Read the entire story at Smithsonian's Past Imperfect blog.

Celebrities Who Spied On The Side

Did you know that Ian Flemming, the man who created James Bond, was responsible for helping to create an American organization focused on international intelligence gathering? Or that mobster Lucky Luciano (picture above) helped the American forces in World War II, using his contacts on the docks to feed information to the Office of Naval Intelligence? Here are 10 big-name personalities whose spying taught them the skills that made them famous; for others, being famous made them the perfect spies.

Viking ship sparks suspicion after being spotted off remote Australian island

Police and local rangers on Elcho Island, a remote island in the Northern Territory, responded to reports of a suspicious Viking ship moving slowly around the island yesterday morning. Approaching the 15 meter long wooden vessel with extreme caution, the rangers said they prepared themselves for anything. "With swords drawn, it was established the Viking vessel was a replica, crewed by six Russians who had sailed from Europe," Watch Commander Gary Smith said.
The ship has traveled from Europe through Africa, Thailand and now the Northern Territory on its way to Sydney where it will be given to a Museum. "We've done all the relevant customs and immigration checks and it was all legit so the Russians went on their merry way," Mr Smith said, adding that they traveled at a top speed of eight knots.

Ranger Damien Clayton said the initial reports suggested the boat could be carrying asylum seekers. "We had reports a wooden boat was anchored out just offshore of the community on the western side (of Elcho Island) that looked a bit suspicious," he said. "It slowly moved around to the eastern side then we got more reports it could possibly be asylum seekers or illegal immigrants.

"We contacted police then we made a move in the early morning...we are very apprehensive on moving in on things like that - you never know what's going to happen." Mr Clayton admitted the boat did look "pretty amazing" on a closer inspection. The Russian crew are reported to have been very cooperative with their limited English, showing their passports, and obliging for a few photographs.

Ancient Tooth Shows Oldest Sign of Dentistry

A beeswax cap was applied to a left canine tooth about 6,500 years ago.  
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Ancient Tooth Shows Oldest Sign of Dentistry

It's Eclipse season on Mars, so Curiosity took pictures

By Seth Borenstein

Curiosity turned its cameras skyward to watch the action in three different eclipses, starting last week and continuing Wednesday, when a moon partially slipped between Mars and the sun. The rover has been beaming back a stream of photos of the Martian landscape since landing near the equator last month.
Texas A&M University scientist Mark Lemmon said the eclipse pictures will help scientists track the fate of the larger Martian moon, Phobos, which is slowing down in its orbit around Mars. In 10 to 15 million years, Phobos will get so close to Mars it will break up and crash into the planet. These moons aren't mere curiosity factors. They get so close to Mars that "they change Mars' shape ever so slightly" with their pull, Lemmon said.
Past rovers have taken pictures of solar eclipses from Mars, but not with such good cameras that take high resolution photos and so many shots that it produces a movie of sorts, Lemmon said. And now that Curiosity has gazed skyward, it's time for the Mini Cooper-sized spacecraft to focus on the ground. On Friday, Curiosity will test its first rock with a laser and other chemical testing kits on the end of its robotic arm. Its first target is a pyramid-shaped dark rock, about 10 inches tall and 16 inches wide at the base. Two of the arm's chemical-sniffing devices will snuggle up against the rock — named for Jake Matijevic, a >Mars rover engineer who died recently — so scientists can figure out what it is made of. "It's just a cool looking rock sitting out there on the plains," said Mars Science Laboratory scientist John Grotzinger. But it's not that unusual and seems similar to rocks past rovers have tested before. That makes it a good start for the rover's testing equipment. It's the type of rock that is scattered all over Mars probably blown out of a crater when it was hit by an asteroid or something, Grotzinger said.

Is Gliese 163c the Most Habitable Exoplanet?

The exoplanet's atmosphere may be too hot for prolonged human exposure, but alien microbes may tolerate it. Read more
Is Gliese 163c the Most Habitable Exoplanet?

Searing-Hot Lava Crashing Into The Seas Off Hawaii

Two photographers risked their lives to become the first people to capture the explosive moment fiery lava crashes into the sea. Nick Selway and CJ Kale braved baking hot 110F waters to capture these images, as they floated just feet from scalding heat and floating lava bombs.

The pair, who chase the lava as it flows from Kilauea through Kalapana, Hawaii, spend their days camped on the edge of active volcanoes to capture the incredible images.

The World's Most Amazing Waterfalls

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Feel the power of the planet's mightiest and most beautiful waterfalls.

Awesome Pictures


Grand Canyon National Park, Tuweep Area, Toroweap Overlook by darthjenni

Sleeping elephant leaves big impression

This imprint in the sand was left by a sleeping Sundara, an eight-year-old Asian elephant at Chester zoo. Elephants lie down on their sides to sleep for around four hours a night and usually turn over once, meaning they sleep for approximately two hours on each side.

All of the zoo paddocks are covered in a thick layer of sand which gives the elephant herd a nice, soft surface to sleep on. The elephants prefer to sleep on a slight slope, so every couple of days the sand is turned over and banked up into piles for them to lean against.

Every night zoo staff record what happens and review the footage the next day. This allows them to note where the elephants have slept, who they have been sleeping next to and how long they have slept for.

They can therefore check that everyone is getting enough sleep, that the babies aren't keeping the older girls awake all night, and keep an eye on the social dynamics of the group.

Apes Enjoy Slapstick Humor

Tripping on a banana peel is the oldest sight gag in the book, but it can be enough to get apes giggling. Read more
Ape Laughter

Hydrosaurus pustulatus

The Philippine Sailfin Dragon (Hydrosaurus pustulatus) the ultra rare Dragon lizard sometimes come in magenta or indigo color.

The Biggest Dogs In The World

Let's face it, some people like their pets big! If you are looking for a large dog there are a number of breeds which are generally referred to as giants. Be careful, though - you should only consider these breeds if you have lots of space, lots of time and quite a deal of money.
Take a look at the giants of the canine world.

Colorful Animals

This colorful creature was recently discovered near a Philippine island along with three other new species of crab.

Small fish makes undersea "crop circles"

This pretty pattern was created by a small, amorous pufferfish.
Underwater cameras showed that the artist was a small puffer fish who, using only his flapping fin, tirelessly worked day and night to carve the circular ridges. The unlikely artist – best known in Japan as a delicacy, albeit a potentially poisonous one – even takes small shells, cracks them, and lines the inner grooves of his sculpture as if decorating his piece. Further observation revealed that this “mysterious circle” was not just there to make the ocean floor look pretty. Attracted by the grooves and ridges, female puffer fish would find their way along the dark seabed to the male puffer fish where they would mate and lay eggs in the center of the circle. In fact, the scientists observed that the more ridges the circle contained, the more likely it was that the female would mate with the male. The little sea shells weren’t just in vain either. The observers believe that they serve as vital nutrients to the eggs as they hatch, and to the newborns.

Animal Pictures