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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Daily Drift

Grizzly Bear Attacking Truck (Sepia Print Scan) by Douglas Thigpen on Flickr.
Just one of those days ...

Some of our readers today have been in:
San Jose, Costa Rica
Edinburgh, Scotland
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kaunas, Lithuania
Sofia, Bulgaria
Kiev, Ukraine
Niagara Falls, Canada
Paranaque, Philippines
Lahore, Pakistan
Mykolayiv, Ukraine
Jakarta, Indonesia
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Istanbul, Turkey
Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Cairo, Egypt
Puchong, Malaysia
Islamabad, Pakistan
Batu Pahat, Malaysia
Santiago, Chile
Pretoria, South Africa

Today is National Chili Day

 Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1066   Westminster Abbey, the most famous church in England, opens its doors.  
1574   On the orders of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, two Englishmen and an Irishman are burnt for heresy.  
1610   Thomas West is appointed governor of Virginia.  
1704   Indians attack Deerfield, Mass. killing 40 and kidnapping 100.  
1847   Colonel Alexander Doniphan and his ragtag Missouri Mounted Volunteers ride to victory at the Battle of Sacramento, during the Mexican War.  
1861   The territory of Colorado is established.  
1863   Four Union gunboats destroy the CSS Nashville near Fort McAllister, Georgia.
1900   After a 119-day siege by the Boers, the surrounded British troops in Ladysmith, South Africa, are relieved.
1916   Haiti becomes the first U.S. protectorate.  
1924   U.S. troops are sent to Honduras to protect American interests during an election conflict.  
1936   The Japanese Army restores order in Tokyo and arrests officers involved in a coup.  
1945   U.S. tanks break the natural defense line west of the Rhine and cross the Erft River.  
1946   The U.S. Army declares that it will use V-2 rocket to test radar as an atomic rocket defense system. 1953   Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia sign a 5-year defense pact in Ankara.  
1967   In Mississippi, 19 are indicted in the slayings of three civil rights workers.  
1969   A Los Angeles court refuses Robert Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan's request to be executed.  
1971   The male electorate in Lichtenstein refuses to give voting rights to women.  
1994   U.S. warplanes shoot down four Serb aircraft over Bosnia in the first NATO use of force in the troubled area.

Non Sequitur


Why Atheists Need A Temple

Even if religion isn't true, asserted writer and philosopher Alain de Botton, why can't we enjoy the best bits? To that end (and to circumvent the "boring debate between fundamentalist believers and non-believers" about religion and God), de Botton proposed in his new book "Religion for Atheists" that what atheism needs are ... temples!
As religions have always known, a beautiful building is an indispensable part of getting your message across. Books alone won’t do it.
De Botton argues that you definitely don’t need a god or gods to justify a temple.
You can build a temple to anything that’s positive and good. That could mean: a temple to love, friendship, perspective, calm, generosity…
This proposal is part of a wider argument de Botton makes that atheists should stop being merely negative about religion and engage with what people actually enjoy about religion. They should then copy it – simply without the God-bit.
With architect Tom Greenall and artist Jordan Jon Hodgson, de Botton proposed a Temple to Perspective, a 150-foot (46 m) tall black tower in the heart of the City of London. Each centimeter of the tower's height equates to one million years of life. At the bottom, there's a single line of gold - no more than a millimeter thick - that represents the entire existence of humankind.

Illinois congressional race shows Bloomberg clout

Women who have lost family members to gun violence stand behind Robin Kelly, left, as Kelly celebrates her special Democratic primary election win for Illinois' 2nd Congressional District, once held by Jesse Jackson Jr., Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, in Matteson, Ill. In this campaign, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's super PAC had a simple formula: choose a strong anti-gun candidate, blast rivals with any hint of support from the National Rifle Association and add in $2.2 million in resources. It worked. Bloomberg’s candidate Kelly won. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)  
In the race to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's super PAC followed a simple strategy: Choose a strong anti-gun candidate, attack rivals supported by the National Rifle Association and add in $2.2 million in resources.
It worked. Bloomberg's candidate, former Illinois lawmaker Robin Kelly, sailed past more than a dozen rivals to win the Democratic primary in this Chicago-area district where guns became the main issue. Because the district is overwhelmingly Democratic, Kelly is widely expected to win the April 9 general election and head to Washington.
Bloomberg's super PAC, Independence USA, boasted Wednesday that the race would be its template for future elections. But political experts and public officials were skeptical if the effort can be replicated elsewhere.
"That is a harbinger of what is to come," said Bloomberg pollster Doug Schoen, who worked previously for President Bill Clinton. "While Chicago may not be the rest of the country, I have been at this 35 years, and I've yet to find an elected official who does not look at an election like this and sit up and take notice."
Kelly's victory generated buzz far beyond the city. Bloomberg said her win showed the public had spoken. Vice President Joe Biden said the victory sent an anti-gun message, and congressmen worried about the repercussions.
Bloomberg is perhaps the single most influential figure in the national gun debate, beyond even President Barack Obama and Biden, because of his deep pockets. The NRA's political action committee raised $1.1 million last month, a trivial amount compared with the billions that Bloomberg has at his disposal.
"The voters of this congressional district understood that they and their children and grandchildren are at risk with guns on the streets," Bloomberg said Wednesday in Washington after meeting with the vice president to discuss efforts to curb gun violence.
But political experts have doubts. They point to the unusual circumstances that shaped the race: It was the first wide-open primary since 1995, with a truncated campaign season of just three months. It was an off-cycle contest that drew only 14 percent voter turnout. And Chicago — where all the top city leaders are already advocates of an assault-weapons ban — has seen a spike in street violence. More than 40 people were killed in Chicago last month, the deadliest January in a decade.
"He pummeled the race in one direction, and (most) of the people didn't participate," said Thom Serafin, a longtime Chicago political consultant. "If they're going to take that model around the country, good luck."
Bloomberg's foray into congressional contests has been inconsistent so far.
He formed his super PAC weeks before the November election and has spent more than $12 million to back roughly half a dozen candidates nationwide. Guns weren't an issue in all of the races, and when they were, he didn't always support the strongest anti-gun advocate.
In another Chicago-area district, he backed repugican incumbent Rep. Bob Dold over newcomer Democrat Brad Schneider, even when Schneider had a stronger anti-gun stance. Dold lost.
Bloomberg has also supported candidates outside of major urban centers. He backed newly elected Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod, a California Democrat who ousted an incumbent, in a district east of Los Angeles that's a mix of industrial and farming communities hit hard by the economic downturn.
The NRA said Kelly's victory doesn't prove anything about Bloomberg's influence, particularly since the gun-rights group didn't spend anything on the race. A better example, the group said, would be last year's campaign in central Florida, where NRA-backed Rep. Dan Webster defeated a Democratic challenger backed by Bloomberg.
"He just spent over $2 million to hold arguably the deepest blue seat in the U.S. House, in a race where the NRA spent zero and had no involvement," NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox said.
In the Chicago area, the super PAC's negative ads blanketed the airways for weeks. They targeted former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who opposes an assault-weapons ban, and pointed out her previous high ratings from the NRA. Even though Halvorson opposed a ban, she supports gun registration and universal background checks. She accused Bloomberg of trying to buy an election, something other candidates echoed.
Kelly, who has been a longtime anti-gun candidate, said she has never been in touch with Bloomberg. Such contact is forbidden by election law. She said her message had been the same since she ramped up campaigning in early December.
"We didn't veer from that strategy," she said. "The voters put me in."
Still, some Democratic candidates in politically mixed, rural districts would probably prefer not to have Bloomberg's help.
Democrat Rep. Rick Nolan represents an economically challenged, mostly rural stretch of rural northern Minnesota, a popular hunting destination. He won re-election by more than 10 percentage points last year after NRA leaders campaigned heavily against him in the closing days of the campaign. Nolan, a lifelong hunter, has supported gun control and said he would back an assault-weapons ban in light of last year's mass shootings.
If Bloomberg's group were to draw even more attention to Nolan's position on guns, the effort could hurt him politically, said Steve Johnson, a senior Nolan aide.
"In districts where the gun issue cuts across people with deeply held views," Johnson said, "it becomes more difficult to talk about jobs and the economy when that debate competes for center stage."

The truth hurts

The “most trusted name in news” fires the most trusted name in news

While CNN’s Soledad O’Brien has not been officially fired, she has become a bit of an un-person at the network, as they’ve taken her off the morning show, but haven’t really put her anywhere else, other than in some nebulous outside producer role that may or may not turn into something substantive.And that’s a pity.
Conservatives hate Soledad. But then again, that’s what conservatives do: hate. The opinion of people who consider Fox News “news” matters little for a network that will never get Fox viewers in the first place. The kind of person who is turned on by Fox’s fact-averse freak show is never going to watch any other network, other than Glenn Beck’s. CNN isn’t vying for Fox viewers, they’re vying for MSNBC’s, and more generally, airports, bars, and other places where TVs run in the background.
They’re also vying for people like me, who would probably watch CNN during the day if I had my TV on, but I usually don’t unless there’s breaking news.  CNN just had to figure out how to get me to turn the TV on.
And passing over Soledad O’Brien isn’t it.
While I know that CNN gets a lot of flack from some on the left, I’ve always liked the network, but only just. I’ve always felt that CNN was on the verge of becoming something “more,” but never quite managed to get there. Fox, as bad as it is, is awfully good at being bad. While CNN is not nearly as good at being good.
Soledad O’Brien was one of the few people I’d turn CNN on for. It boggles the mind why anyone would choose her as the first to push aside when rearranging the deck chairs on the oldest cable news network around. Soledad is smart, pretty, Latina (mom’s from Cuba, dad from Australia), which adds some diversity to CNN’s line-up and content, and she’s one of the few media stars out there who practices actual journalism, and is willing to let an interview get heated, but not hot, in order to better get at the truth.
In the end, perhaps that’s why she was pushed aside: Soledad O’Brien wasn’t willing to play the game of asking simple questions and accepting simplistic answers, or worse, lies.
Cenk Uygur discusses the dissing of Soledad more in this video:

Faux News Facing Extinction as 29% of Their Younger Viewers Drop Faux

Younger television viewers continue to abandon Faux News in droves. In February, Faux is down another 29% with viewers age 25-54 in primetime.
While total viewership numbers remained flat for Faux News, their problem with younger viewers got worse in February. Compared to February 2012, Faux News has lost 29% of their age 25-54 viewers in primetime. Bill O’Reilly’s viewership is down 3% overall, and 29% with viewers age 25-54. Sean Hannity’s total viewership is down 11% in total, and 35% with viewers age 25-54. Greta Van Susteren’s total viewership is down 21%, and 32% with viewers age 25-54.
fox-news-logoIn comparison, MSNBC is down 3% total in primetime, and they are flat with viewers age 25-54. Ed Schultz is down 14% in total viewers, and 10% with viewers age 25-54. Rachel Maddow is down 6% in total viewers, and 5% with viewers age 25-54. Lawrence O’Donnell is down 7% in total viewers, and 12% with viewers age 25-54.
Faux News still continues to post wide overall viewership leads, but those numbers are deceiving. Senior citizens are powering Faux. The network has the oldest audience on all of television. The average age of a Faux News viewer is 66 years old and the decline in younger viewership is the biggest long term threat to the network’s survival.
Younger viewers who don’t watch Faux News are less likely to become older voters who do watch Faux News. February 2013 has been a down month across cable news compared to the same month in 2012, but MSNBC was able to keep their viewers age 25-54. The biggest age 25-54 viewership decline at MSNBC was Lawrence O’Donnell’s 12%. This is less than half of the smallest decline (O’Reilly’s 29%) on Faux.
Younger people aren’t voting repugican and they aren’t watching Faux News.
In the long term Faux execs have to figure out some way to get non-senior citizens to watch or the network’s viewership will literally die off. Faux News either has to attract younger viewers, or hope that advancements in medical science push the average life expectancy to 90.
MSNBC is already the top rated cable news network with African Americans. As the demographics of America change, MSNBC is poised to grow.
It isn’t going to happen today or tomorrow, but Faux News is facing extinction if they don’t stop the demographic bleeding.

Why Christie wasn't Invited to CPAC

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was not invited to speak at CPAC this year because he broke with wingnuts on key issues over the past year, they say.

Said organizer Al Cardenas: (Who?) "CPAC is like the all-star game for professional athletes; you get invited when you have had an outstanding year.
(You mean like Romney and Palin had?)  ha ha

Hopefully he will have another all-star year in the future, at which time we will be happy to extend an invitation. This is a wingnut conference, not a repugican cabal event."

Nate Silver points out that conservatives "had been underrating how moderate Christie was -- perhaps because they were so desperate at that time to find alternatives to Romney and their other six dwarfs. Now that he's been 'outed' as a moderate, it may be hard to close the closet door."

Al Sharpton says Chris Christie is THE most popular repugican in America.I thought about it and I agree - what repugican is more popular as Christie? 

Nobody, that's who, which is why the repugican cabal won't have anything to do with him.

ha ha

It's like Pigboy and FAUX News are counter-spies working for us - for free.

They won't allow the repugican cabal to get into a position where they might win.

repugican women head to CPAC

Question and Answer

JC Penney reports another massive loss in 4Q

FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, file photo, a shopper drags her purchases past a line of customers waiting to pay at a J.C. Penney store, in Las Vegas. The mid-priced department store chain on Wednesday, Feb. 26. 2013. reported another much larger-than-expected loss in the fiscal fourth quarter and a nearly 30 percent plunge in revenue in the latest sign that shoppers aren't happy with the changes it's made in the past year. The results mark a full year of massive quarterly losses and revenue declines since J.C. Penney Co. began a turnaround strategy that included ditching most of its coupons and sales events in favor of everyday low prices, bringing in new designer brands such as Betsy Johnson and remaking outdated stores to give them an outdoor mall kind of feel. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)Boy, it just wasn't J.C. Penney's year.
The mid-priced department store chain has decided to bring back sales events after it reported another much larger-than-expected loss in the fiscal fourth quarter on a nearly 30 percent plunge in revenue.
The results mark a full year of massive quarterly losses and revenue declines that miss Wall Street estimates since J.C. Penney Co. began a turnaround strategy that included ditching most of its coupons and sales events in favor of everyday low prices, bringing in hipper designer brands such as Betsy Johnson and remaking outdated stores.
The quarterly performance puts additional pressure on CEO Ron Johnson, the former Apple Inc. executive who was brought about a year ago to turn the stodgy retailer that was losing money into a hip and profitable company that can compete with the likes of Macy's or H&M. In the past year since Johnson rolled out his plan, though, even once loyal customers have strayed away from the 1,100-store chain.
While acknowledging that Penney made some mistakes during a conference call with investors, Johnson said on Wednesday that Penney will start offering regular sales in stores — about 100 of the 600 or so the chain offered prior to the turnaround plan.
"Experience is making mistakes and learning from them, and I have learned a lot," Johnson said. "We worked really hard and tried many things to help the customer understand that she shop any time on her terms. But we learned she prefers a sale. At times, she loves a coupon. And she always needs a reference price."
Teresa Cansell used to make the 45-mile trek from her farm near Leon, Kan., to a Penney store in Wichita about once a month. But since Penney started making changes last year, she's only been twice. And on her latest trip in December, she walked out empty handed because she couldn't find a leather jacket she wanted.
"I loved the old J.C. Penney. I liked the coupons," Cansell, 53, said. "I used to go to Penney every time I got them in the mail. I would buy a ton of stuff."
Penney's results show that other shoppers feel the same way. During the fourth quarter that ended Feb. 2, Penney's revenue at stores opened at least a year — a figure the retail industry uses to measure of a store's health — dropped 31.7 percent.
That's on top of hefty drops in the previous three quarters of 26.1 percent in the third, 21.7 percent in the second and 19 percent in the first. And it's steeper than the decline of 26.1 percent Wall Street had expected.
Penney, based in Plano, Texas, also widened its loss to $552 million, or $2.51 per share, up from a loss of $87 million, or 41 cents per share a year ago. Excluding charges related to restructuring and management changes, Penney's adjusted loss for the quarter was $427 million, or $1.95 per share.
Total revenue dropped 28.4 percent to $3.88 billion. Analysts had expected a loss of 23 cents on revenue of $4.08 billion, according to research firm FactSet.
Penney's results for the full year reveal just how much the company is struggling to shore up its business. For the fiscal year, Penney lost $985 million, or $4.49 per share, compared with a loss of $152 million, or 70 cents per share, in fiscal 2011. And the company's revenue fell nearly a quarter, or 24.8 percent, to $12.98 billion from the previous year's $17.26 billion.
"It's the worst performance I have ever seen by a company in one year," said Walter Loeb, an independent retail consultant.
Wall Street hasn't been any happier than Main Street with Penney's changes. On the news of its quarterly results, which were reported after markets were closed for the day, Penney shares fell about 9 percent about $19 in after-hour trading.
In total, investors, who initially sent Penney shares soaring 24 percent to about $43 after the company announced the everyday pricing plan in late January of last year, have pushed them down by about half since early last year.
It's a disappointing turn of events from November 2011 when Johnson took the top job at Penney. A couple of months later, on Feb. 1 of last year, Johnson launched a new pricing that was designed to wean customers off the markdowns they'd become accustomed to, but that ultimately eat into profits.
He got rid of the nearly 600 sales Penney offered at various times throughout the year for a three-tiered strategy that permanently lowered prices on all items in the store by 40 percent, offered monthlong discounts on select items and periodic clearance events throughout the year. He also got rid of the word "sales" from the company's marketing and rolled out colorful ads that featured dogs and children.
But customers weren't responding to the changes, so Johnson tweaked his strategy, including bringing back the word "sale" in the summer. The latest changes came this month when Penney began adding back more sales events. It also started putting price tags on half of its merchandise that show customers how much they're saving by shopping at Penney, and rolled out new ads.
Penney said Wednesday that it now will focus on discounting its store label merchandise like Arizona, not the new brands like Joe Fresh, which features brightly colored clothes. He estimated that there will be about 100 sales events each year.
In addition to those changes, Johnson has said that Penney is starting to see some positive results from its makeover of stores with sectioned-off shops that feature different brands. The company said the reception has been warm to the 10 mini-shops that it rolled out this fall, including those for Levi's brand and Penney's new JCP line of casual clothes. Other brands, including Joe Fresh, will be rolled out in coming years.
The worry on Wall Street is that Johnson won't be able to turn around business fast enough to finance the transformation of its stores. But customers like Ricky Rodriguez, from Fort Worth, Texas, offer hope for Penney.
"I feel like the guy section is getting more hip," said the 27-year-old who recently bought a dress shirt for $25 at Penney. "I've been going there every other week."

Just to remind you ...

Argentina, creditors face off in NY over debts

FILE - In this July 25, 2012 photo, Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez unveils an archetype of the new 100 Argentine pesos bill bearing the profile of former late first lady Maria Eva Duarte de Peron, better known as "Evita," at the government palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Judgment day is approaching in an epic battle between Argentina and New York billionaire Paul Singer, who has sent lawyers around the globe trying to force the South American country to pay its defaulted debts. Three U.S. appellate judges will hear oral arguments in New York on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, in the case, NML Capital Ltd. v. Argentina. The case has shaken bond markets, worried bankers, lawyers and diplomats, captivated financial analysts and generated enough “friend of the court” briefs to kill a small forest. (AP Photo/Alberto Raggio, DyN, File) 
The Republic of Argentina squared off with a group of U.S. hedge funds Wednesday in a court case that has the potential to unravel the deals the South American country made over the past decade to get out from under a $100 billion pile of bad national debt.
The high-stakes legal fight, which revolves around Argentina's refusal to pay anything to a small group of holdout creditors owed about $1.3 billion, appeared to be reaching a sort of brink Wednesday, as lawyers representing banks, bondholders, and the republic appeared before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The intractable nature of the dispute was made clear from the start, when Argentina's American lawyer, Jonathan Blackman, sheepishly issued what amounted to a challenge to the court's authority: He said that if the judges issued a ruling that didn't go Argentina's way, the country would simply refuse to comply.
"We are representing a government, and governments will not be told to do things that fundamentally violate their principles," Blackman said.
The pronouncement visibly irritated one of the judges on the panel, Reena Raggi, who questioned the lawyer sharply about why that meant the court should excuse the country from a debt that it is legally obligated to pay.
The dispute stems from Argentina's record $100 billion default on its national debt in 2001. Most of the country's creditors ultimately agreed to new bonds paying far less than what they were originally owed. A few holdouts resisted, including companies controlled by New York billionaire hedge fund investor Paul Singer.
Those holdouts have won a $1.3 billion court judgment against Argentina in New York, but they have been labeled "vultures" by Argentina's president, Cristina Fernandez, who has vowed to pay them nothing unless they accept the same deal as the other bondholders.
Singer's hedge funds, meanwhile, have gone after Argentina's assets around the globe, even temporarily persuading the nation of Ghana to seize a ship in the Argentinian navy.
The two sides have been in court over the issue since 2004, but on Wednesday their argument before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was being watched closely by bankers because of its potential impact on unrelated debt disputes.
In a creative effort to force Argentina to pay up, a federal judge last year ordered the U.S. bank processing the country's debt payments to begin diverting a portion of that money away from the bondholders who previously settled and into the hands of Singer and the other holdouts.
The idea, hatched by U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa, was to make it impossible for Argentina to settle any of its debts without also paying the hedge funds, thus putting it under more pressure to abide by the court's judgments.
That solution, though, raised cries of protest from banks, bondholders and from the U.S. Treasury Department. They argued that Griesa's solution unfairly penalized bondholders who weren't a party to the dispute. They also warned that, if copied in other cases, the solution of garnishing payments made through custodial banks could inject an element of uncertainty into an electronic funds transfer system vital to the world economy. Right now, money transfers on that system are virtually automatic.
How high are the stakes? The two groups of bondholders were represented in court Wednesday by Theodore Olson and David Boies, the same lawyers who represented the shrub and Al Gore in their Supreme Court showdown over the 2000 presidential election.
Boies, who represents the group of bondholders whose payments would be disrupted under Griesa's plan, said it was unfair for the court to punish them in an attempt to force Argentina to obey court order.
"You can't say to us, 'We are going to hold you hostage,'" Boies told the judges. "We are innocent parties here, Your Honor."
Olson, who represents Singer's NML Capital Ltd., dismissed the idea that the other bondholders were innocent victims or that the court was overstepping its bounds.
"The hostage holding is being done by Argentina," he said. He presented the issue simply: Argentina owes the money, it has the ability to pay, and it shouldn't be rewarded for its defiance. "Argentina would be vastly better off," he said, "if it started to pay its obligations."
If the court upholds Griesa's orders, it might set up a scenario where Argentina would either have to begin paying the holdouts or default on all of its restructured debts — a move that could create a new economic crisis.
Blackman said Argentina would probably opt to default anyway.
"You're going to make it worse," he warned the judges.
The appeals court isn't expected to issue a ruling for several months.

The truth be told

Tycoon wants to send married couple on Mars flyby

A drawing provided by Inspiration Mars shows an artist’s conception of a spacecraft envisioned by the private group, which wants to send a married couple on a mission to fly by the red planet and zip back home, beginning in 2018. The nonprofit “Inspiration Mars” will get initial money from multimillionaire Dennis Tito, the first space tourist. Outsiders put the price tag at more than $1 billion. The mission, announced Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, would last more than 16 months. (AP Photo/Inspiration Mars)  
It's a road trip that could test the best of marriages: Mars. A tycoon announced plans Wednesday to send a middle-aged couple on a privately built spaceship to slingshot around the red planet and come back home, hopefully with their bodies and marriage in one piece after 501 days of no-escape togetherness in a cramped capsule half the size of an RV.
Under the audacious but bare-bones plan, the spacecraft would blast off less than five years from now and pass within 100 miles of the Martian surface. The cost was not disclosed, but outsiders put it at more than $1 billion.
The team of space veterans behind the project hasn't quite figured out the technical details of the rocket they will use or the capsule the husband-and-wife astronauts will live in during the 16-month voyage. But they know it will be an adventure not for the weak of body or heart.
"This is not going to be an easy mission," chief technical officer and potential crew member Taber MacCallum said. "We called it the Lewis and Clark trip to Mars."
The trying circumstances include: no showers, limits on toilet paper and clothing, drinking water made from the crew members' recycled urine and sweat, and almost no privacy. But the flight also comes with never-before-seen views of Mars. And there's ample time for zero-gravity sex in space, something NASA doesn't like to talk about.
As for why a man and a woman will be selected, "this is very symbolic and we really need it to represent humanity," MacCallum said.
He said if it is a man and a woman on such a long, close-quarters voyage, it makes sense for them to be married so that they can give each other the emotional support they will probably need when they look out the window and see Earth get smaller and more distant: "If that's not scary, I don't know what is."
The private, nonprofit project, called Inspiration Mars, will get initial money from NASA engineer-turned-multimillionaire investment consultant Dennis Tito, the first space tourist. The organizers hope to raise the rest through donations, advertising and media partnerships.
NASA will not be involved. Instead, the project's backers intend to use a ship built by other aerospace companies, employing an austere design that could take people to Mars for a fraction of what it would cost NASA to do with robots, officials said.
Even though some of the hardware hasn't even been built, Tito said he is confident everything will come together by 2018 with no test flights.
It will be a stripped-down mission when it comes to automation and complexity, meaning the couple will have to fix things on the fly like TV's MacGyver and do more piloting than on NASA vehicles, said chief medical officer Jonathan Clark.
The flight is timed to take advantage of the once-in-a-generation close approach of the two planets' orbits. The timeline calls for launch on Jan. 5, 2018, the Mars flyby on Aug. 20, 2018, and a return to Earth on May 21, 2019.
It involves huge risk, more than a government agency like NASA would normally permit, officials concede. For example, the spaceship will fly during a period when galactic cosmic rays will be high because of the sunspot cycle. That will increase the crew's cancer risk by about 3 percent, which is more than on any NASA mission, Clark said.
The ship would also re-enter Earth's atmosphere at twice the speed of ordinary space capsules, something Tito said still needs to be worked out.
"Life is risky," said Clark, a former NASA flight surgeon whose astronaut wife died in the 2003 space shuttle Columbia accident. "Anything that's worth it is worth putting it all at stake for."
What may be most at stake is the crew members' marriage. The couple will be selected within a year.
MacCallum and his wife, Jane Poynter, hope to be picked. They were a couple when they participated in Biosphere 2, a sort of giant terrarium that was supposed to replicate a mission on another planet. Poynter said it was such a fraught experience psychologically that some participants wouldn't talk to each other for most of the two years.
But MacCallum said it brought him and Poynter closer together. He said the right couple going to Mars, if screened and counseled ahead of time, would come back with a stronger marriage.
Poynter said the husband and wife need to be even-tempered. Clark said they should be post-childbearing age because of exposure to radiation. Poynter is 50, MacCallum 48.
For the 30 years NASA has been flying men and women, it has avoided the question of sex in space. MacCallum said it will happen: "It's a man and wife. Private time. Let your imagination run wild."
In a statement, NASA spokesman David Steitz said the venture validates President Barack Obama's decision to rely more on private sector ingenuity to explore space, and is "a testament to the audacity of America's commercial aerospace industry and the adventurous spirit of America's citizen-explorers."
He said "NASA will continue discussions with Inspiration Mars to see how the agency might collaborate on mutually beneficial activities."
Stanford University professor Scott Hubbard, NASA's former Mars mission chief, said the team's technical paper outlining the flight is "long on inspiration, short on technical details. What is there is correct."
Other outside experts praised the expertise of the team but worried about the lack of testing.
Former astronaut and current MIT aerospace engineering professor Jeff Hoffman said: "Since they don't plan to land on Mars, it's really a question of keeping people alive for 501 days in space, which is not an impossible task."

Tom the Dancing Bug


Dog shoots its owner

Another responsible gun owner.  This one got shot by his own dog.Surely the dog was a jack-pawed thug trying to make gun owners look bad in order to justify a federal crackdown on guns.  After all, the only thing that stops a bad dog with a gun is a good dog with a gun.
Thankfully though, the dog was not arrested after the shooting incident, though I’m sure the NRA would probably like to sign him up to boost their membership roles.
You see, the responsible gun owner had a loaded shotgun, with the safety off, sitting on the floor of his truck.  His dog allegedly kicked the gun and set it off, shooting the man in the leg.only
The responsible gun owner didn’t think that the gun sitting around in his truck might be loaded? This responsible gun owner sounds a lot like the guy who lost his loaded and unlocked gun at a movie theater late last year, where kids found it. Earlier this month there was the other responsible gun owner who dropped her gun in a McDonald’s and accidentally shot her husband.
Heckuva a lot of responsible gun owners lately.
Dog with gun via Shutterstock

As we know, the NRA party-line about responsible gun owners is a bit of a myth. When it comes to permitting guns in their own backyard, suddenly Republican gun nuts go all NIMBY on us.  Whether it’s Texas Congressman Stockman, who held a rally opposing gun-free zones in a gun-free zone created for his own protection.  Or it’s the Idaho legislature, that is oh so very pro-gun, until a guy actually brings a gun into the legislature, then they all freak out.
Then again, you can hardly blame repugican gun nuts from wanting protection against their own “responsible” constituents, like the gun nut who thought he was making a constitutional point when he brought an assault rifle and glock to a shopping mall in Utah.
Or the responsible gun owner in Tennessee who threatened to “start killing people” if the President signed any executive orders on gun control following the Sandy Hook massacre.
Let’s face it, even the Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza’s gun-nut mother couldn’t use her own arsenal to protect herself against her gun-nut son.
There are simply too many guns in the US, and way too many guns in the hands of nuts. Perhaps this is why there’s such huge support for gun control, particularly the assault weapons ban and background checks.
It’s time to quit hiding behind the “responsible gun owner,” line and recognize that there are too many irresponsible gun owners in America, and it’s time to start reining them in.

Would Gun Control Reduce Suicides?

The number of people dying as a result of suicide with a gun exceeds the number of homicides recorded in the United States using firearms.

U.S. Judge Labels Anti-whaling Group 'Pirates'

A U.S. appeals court overturns a lower court ruling against Japanese whalers.


Did You Know? The largest Viking warship discovered was 119 feet long with a 2,175-square-foot sail. It could carry a crew of 100 and had over 70 oars, making it one of the fastest ships of its time.

Ancient Shoes Turn Up in Egypt Temple

The shoes were stuffed into a jar 2,000 years ago, never to be found -- until now.

Random Photo

Winter Storms Not Enough to Stop Drought

More winter storms would be welcome after a major drought in the Midwest.

A 60 y.o. Chinese environmentalist beaten by mob of 40 men

As we said the other day, being an environmentalist in China is not easy and potentially bad for your health. A mob reportedly beat up a local environmentalist who called for government officials to swim in a heavily polluted river in China.We’d written about the river’s plight a week ago (check out the photo of the river to the right).
Interestingly, the man who was assaulted was not the local business person who offered big money ($32,000) to a government environmental official if he’d swim in the polluted river, but instead they targeted a 60 year old activist who had backed the call.
We’re not immune “to two weights, two measures” in the US either (e.g., Wall Street getting away with economic destruction, while the little guy pays the price) but for the most part, it doesn’t involve street violence.
Polluted river in China
Polluted river in China
“My father was alone at home,” said 32-year-old Chen Xiufang. “Some 40 people turned up in plain clothes, some holding batons. The only thing they said was: “[You] used the internet, you always use the internet!”
“The whole thing lasted four or five hours until the police arrived. My father got hit in the head by six or seven people, with their fists. He is now feeling dizzy and sleeping all the time,” she added, claiming the attack had been orchestrated by local officials.
Calls to the mobile phone of the local Communist Party chief went unanswered on Wednesday.

Seed lending library

Basalt, CO's public library has added packets of seeds to its circulating collection: you grow 'em, pick out the best fruits, and harvest the seeds and give them back to the library for the next patron:
Here's how it works: A library card gets you a packet of seeds. You then grow the fruits and vegetables, harvest the new seeds from the biggest and best, and return those seeds so the library can lend them out to others.
Syson says tending a garden in Western Colorado can be frustrating. The dry climate, alkaline soils and short growing season keep many novices from starting. She'll take seeds from the plants that withstand pests and persevere through drought.
"If you save seed from those plants, already, in one generation, you will now be able to grow a plant that has those traits," Syson says.

Awesome Pictures

Misdiagnoses in doctor's office can do harm

 Missed or wrong diagnoses in primary care may put thousands of patients at risk of complications each year, a new study suggests. Although mistakes during surgery and in medication prescribing have been at the center of patient safety efforts, researchers said less attention has been paid to missed diagnoses in the doctor's office.
Those errors may lead to more patient injuries and deaths than other mistakes, according to Dr. David Newman-Toker from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, who co-wrote a commentary on the new study.
"We have every reason to believe that diagnostic errors are a major, major public health problem," Newman-Toker told Reuters Health.
"You're really talking about at least 150,000 people per year, deaths or disabilities that are resulting from this problem."
For the new study, researchers used electronic health records to track 190 diagnostic errors made during primary care visits at one of two healthcare facilities. In each of those cases, the misdiagnosed patient was hospitalized or turned up back at the office or emergency room within two weeks.
The study team found the type of missed diagnosis varied widely. Pneumonia, heart failure, kidney failure and cancer each accounted for between five and seven percent of conditions doctors initially diagnosed as something else.
Most diagnostic errors could have caused moderate or severe harm to the patient, the researchers determined. Of the 190 patients with diagnostic errors, 36 had serious, permanent damage and 27 died, according to findings published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
One of the difficulties in making an accurate diagnosis is certain common symptoms - such as stomach ache or shortness of breath - could be signs of a range of illnesses, both serious and not, researchers said.
"If you look at the types of chief complaints that these things occur with, they're fairly common chief complaints," said Dr. Hardeep Singh, who led the new study at the Houston VA Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence.
"If somebody would come in with mild shortness of breath and a little bit of cough, people would think you might have bronchitis, you might have phlegm… and lo and behold they would come back two days later with heart failure," he told Reuters Health.
Most of the missed diagnoses were traced back to the office visit and the doctor not getting an accurate patient history, doing a full exam or ordering the correct tests, Singh's team found.
Cutting down on those errors may require changes in doctor training, for example. One thing patients can do, the researchers agreed, is come to the office prepared to give their doctor all of the relevant information about the nature and timing of their symptoms.
"I do think it's important for a patient to question or observe the doctor," Newman-Toker said. "Ask pointed questions: ‘What else could this be? What things are you most concerned about?'"
In addition, he told Reuters Health, patients should "not just assume that once the diagnosis has happened the first time, that everything is said and done and that it's all over. You just can't have blind obedience to the doctor's diagnosis."
For example, Newman-Toker said, if people develop new symptoms or their symptoms worsen, they shouldn't assume everything is fine because their doctor initially diagnosed something not serious.
Patients should understand there is some uncertainly involved in a diagnosis, Singh said, especially because symptoms and conditions can change over time.
"We need to get patients more engaged in the conversation with the providers," he said. "I think the main message is: how do we effectively (make diagnoses) together?"

How Gruesome Parasite Lives in You for Decades

New research shows that the secret to blood fluke's long life cycle could be stem cells that allow it to keep regenerating its body parts.

Viruses Pass Major Test to Enter Ranks of Living

Viruses with their own immune systems can kill bacteria, and could be key in fighting superbugs.

Animal Pictures

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Daily Drift

Through the misty morning fog I see ...

Some of our readers today have been in:
Paranaque, Philippines
Amman, Jordan
Mykolayiv, Ukraine
Tyn Nad Vltavou, Czech Republic
Kiev, Ukraine
Bordeaux, France
Batu Pahat, Malaysia
Kaunas, Lithuania
Sampaloc, Philippines
Algiers, Algeria
Belgrade, Serbia
Santiago, Chile
Bandung, Indonesia
Bila Tserkva, Ukraine
Lima, Peru
Istanbul, Turkey
Cape Town, South Africa
Ankara, Turkey
Riga, Latvia
Zamboanga, Philippines
Abu Dahbi, United Arab Emirates
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Hanoi, Vietnam
Valdivia, Chile
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Lodz, Poland
Islamabad, Pakistan
Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Novi Sad, Serbia
Harare, Zimbabwe
Warsaw, Poland
Makati, Philippines
Jakarta, Indonesia
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Manila, Philippines
Cairo, Egypt
Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Almaty, Kazakhstan
Puchong, Malaysia
Niagara Falls, Canada
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Sofia, Bulgaria
Tallinn, Estonia
Lahore, Pakistan
Pretoria, South Africa

Today is Inconvenience Yourself Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

425   Theodosius effectively founds a university in Constantinople.
1531   German Protestants form the League of Schmalkalden to resist the power of the emperor.  
1700   The Pacific Island of New Britain is discovered.  
1814   Napoleon's Marshal Nicholas Oudinot is pushed back at Barsur-Aube by the Emperor's allied enemies shortly before his abdication.  
1827   The first Mardi-Gras celebration is held in New Orleans.  
1864   The first Union prisoners arrive at Andersonville Prison in Georgia.  
1865   Confederate raider William Quantrill and his bushwackers attack Hickman, Kentucky, shooting women and children.  
1905   The Japanese push Russians back in Manchuria and cross the Sha River.  
1908   The forty-sixth star is added to the U.S. flag, signifying Oklahoma's admission to statehood.  
1920   The United States rejects a Soviet peace offer as propaganda.  
1925   Glacier Bay National Monument is dedicated in Alaska.  
1933   The burning down of the Reichstag building in Berlin gives the Nazis the opportunity to suspend personal liberty with increased power.  
1939   The Supreme Court outlaws sit-down strikes.  
1942   British Commandos raid a German radar station at Bruneval on the French coast.  
1953   F-84 Thunderjets raid North Korean base on Yalu River.  
1962   South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem is unharmed as two planes bomb the presidential palace in Saigon.  
1963   The Soviet Union says that 10,000 troops will remain in Cuba.  
1969   Thousands of students protest President Richard Nixon's arrival in Rome.  
1973   U.S. Supreme Court rules that a Virginia pool club can't bar residents because of color.  
1988   Debi Thomas becomes the first African American to win a medal at the Winter Olympics.  
1991  Coalition forces liberate Kuwait after seven months of occupation by the Iraqi army.

Non Sequitur


Voting rights law gets Supreme Court challenge

People wait in line outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27,2013, to listen to oral arguments in the Shelby County, Ala., v. Holder voting rights case. The justices are hearing arguments in a challenge to the part of the Voting Rights Act that forces places with a history of discrimination, mainly in the Deep South, to get approval before they make any change in the way elections are held. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) 
The most potent weapon in fighting discrimination at the ballot box was before the Supreme Court on Wednesday in a case that weighs the nation's enormous progress in civil rights against the need to continue to protect minority voters.
The justices were hearing arguments in a challenge to the part of the Voting Rights Act that forces places with a history of discrimination, mainly in the Deep South, to get approval before they make any change in the way elections are held.
The lawsuit from Shelby County, Ala., near Birmingham, says the "dire local conditions" that once justified strict federal oversight of elections no longer exist.
The Obama administration and civil rights groups acknowledge the progress, but also argue that Congress was justified in maintaining the advance approval, or pre-clearance, provision when the law was last renewed in 2006.
Last week, President Barack Obama weighed in on behalf of the law in a radio interview with SiriusXM host Joe Madison. "It would be hard for us to catch those things up front to make sure that elections are done in an equitable way" if the need for advance approval from the Justice Department or federal judges in Washington were stripped away, Obama said.
The Supreme Court already has expressed deep skepticism about the ongoing need for the law. In 2009, the justices heard a similar challenge in which Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court that the law's past success "is not adequate justification to retain the pre-clearance requirements." But the court sidestepped the question of the law's constitutionality in its 2009 decision.
Advance approval has been successful because it requires the governments to demonstrate that their proposed election changes will not discriminate, the law's advocates say. "It moved the burden from victims to perpetrators," said Sherrilyn Ifill, the head of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund.
Just last year, federal judges in Washington refused to sign off on two separate Texas plans to institute a tough photo identification law for voters and redistricting plans for the state's congressional delegation and Legislature. Also, South Carolina's plan to put in place its own voter ID law was delayed beyond the 2012 election and then allowed to take effect only after the state carved out an exception for some people who lack photo identification.
Opponents say those examples should not be enough to save the measure. Advance approval is strong medicine that has been upheld in the past as an emergency response to longstanding discrimination, lawyer Bert Rein said in his brief for Shelby County.
Congress overstepped its authority when it renewed the law and its formula that relied on 40-year-old data, without taking account of dramatic increases in the voter registration and participation by minorities, or of problems in places not covered by the law, Rein said.
The advance approval was adopted in the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to give federal officials a way to get ahead of persistent efforts to keep blacks from voting.
The provision was a huge success, and Congress periodically has renewed it over the years. The most recent time was in 2006, when a repugican-led Congress overwhelmingly approved and the shrub signed a 25-year extension.
The requirement currently applies to the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. It also covers certain counties in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota, and some local jurisdictions in Michigan and New Hampshire. Coverage has been triggered by past discrimination not only against blacks, but also against American Indians, Asian-Americans, Alaskan Natives and Hispanics.
Among the covered states, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas are siding with Shelby County, while California, Mississippi, New York and North Carolina argue that the law should be upheld.
Nearly 250 of the 12,000 state, county and local governments covered by the law have used an escape hatch to get out from under the special oversight by demonstrating that they and smaller places within their borders no longer discriminate in voting.
Thousands more jurisdictions also may be eligible, said voting rights expert Gerry Hebert. But that list probably does not include Shelby County, because one of its cities, Calera, defied the voting rights law in 2008 and provoked intervention by the Justice Department in the shrub jumta.

Wingnuts on Supreme Court cast doubt on voting law

U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) (L) and Rev. Al Sharpton (2nd L) attend a voter's rights rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington February 27, 2013. The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider whether to strike down a key provision of a federal law designed to protect minority voters. During the one-hour oral argument, the nine justices will hear the claim made by officials from Shelby County, Alabama, that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is no longer needed. REUTERS/Gary Cameron  
Wingnut Supreme Court justices on Wednesday signaled strong doubts about the ongoing validity of a key part of the Voting Rights Act, passed in 1965 after a century of attempts by formerly slave-holding Southern states to block blacks from voting.
During a tense oral argument, which went beyond the scheduled one hour, the nine justices considered the claim made by officials from Shelby County, Alabama, that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was no longer needed.
Attempts to limit Section 5 come amid what critics call concerted efforts by Republicans at the state level to suppress the vote of blacks and other Democratic-minded demographic groups.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president, decried barriers to voting in America and announced a nonpartisan commission to address voting issues.
Section 5 enables Congress to exercise its authority under the Constitution's 15th Amendment, which gave blacks the right to vote, to require some states, mainly in the South, to show that any proposed election-law change would not discriminate against minority voters.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court's swing vote on racial issues, at one point during the argument said "times change" when it comes to weighing whether the nine states in question should be treated differently from other states.
This appeared to be a view shared by other justices on the wingnuts of the court, including Chief Justice John Roberts.
At one point, the chief justice asked the Obama administration's lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, if it was the government's position that "citizens in the South are more racist than citizens in the North." Verrilli said that was not the government's position.
Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the other wingnuts, said that the court should be skeptical of Congress' decision to reauthorize the law in 2006 because it would be politically damaging for politicians to vote against it.
He described the political phenomenon as the "perpetuation of racial entitlement" for minority voters.
The court's liberal justices mounted a spirited defense of the law, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor a vigorous and persistent questioner throughout. She referred to Shelby County as "the epitome of why this law was passed."

Daily Comic Relief

Did you know ...

That for some landlords, there's real money in the homeless

About mandatory insurance for gun owners?

A leading geneticist: human intelligence is declining

What's it like to wake up from a tea-party binge? just ask Florida!

Anti-gun Democrat wins primary to replace Jackson

Robin Kelly celebrates her special primary election win for Illinois' 2nd Congressional District, once held by Jesse Jackson Jr., Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, in Matteson, Ill. After a primary campaign dominated by gun control and economic woes, voters chose Kelly over Debbie Halvorson and Anthony Beale, making her the likely replacement for Jesse Jackson Jr., three months after his legal troubles and battle with depression forced the son of the civil rights leader to resign from Congress. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) 
The newly elected Democratic nominee to replace disgraced former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. vowed to become a leader in the fight for federal gun control and directly challenged the National Rifle Association in her victory speech.
Robin Kelly, a former state representative, emerged early as a voice for gun control after Jackson resigned in November. Then she gained huge momentum when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's super PAC poured $2 million into anti-gun television ads that blasted one of her Democratic opponents, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, for receiving a previous high rating from the NRA.
Kelly supports an assault weapons ban, while Halvorson does not.
"We were on the right side of the issue, and our message resonated," Kelly said shortly after her win.
In her victory speech, she promised to fight "until gun violence is no longer a nightly feature on the evening news" and directly addressed the NRA, saying "their days of holding our country hostage are coming to an end."
Bloomberg called Kelly's win an important victory for "common-sense leadership" on gun violence, saying in a statement that voters nationwide are demanding change.
But other Democratic front-runners accused Bloomberg of buying a race and interfering in the heavily urban district that also includes some Chicago suburbs and rural areas.
"It shows, unfortunately, you can't go up against that big money. ... That's the problem with super PACs," said Halvorson, who unsuccessfully challenged Jackson in a primary last year. "There is nothing I could have done differently."
Because the district is overwhelmingly Democratic, Kelly's primary win all but assures she will sail through the April 9 general election and head to Washington.
In the repugican contest, Chicago resident Paul McKinley led Eric Wallace, a publisher of christian books, by 23 votes with a handful of precincts still uncounted. McKinley, a former felon, describes himself as a grassroots activist on behalf of ex-offenders.
The race was the district's first wide-open primary since 1995, when Jackson was first elected to Congress. He resigned in November after a months-long medical leave for treatment of bipolar disorder and other issues, then pleaded guilty this month to spending $750,000 in campaign money on lavish personal items.
Even with his legal saga playing out in the courts, the gun debate dominated the primary, which featured 14 Democrats. The election came after Chicago saw its deadliest January in more than a decade, including the fatal shooting of an honors student just days after she performed at President Barack Obama's second inauguration.
Political experts and fellow candidates said the super PAC money made all the difference, particularly in an election with a short primary and low voter turnout.
"The money bought Kelly a tremendous among of attention," said Laura Washington, a political analyst in Chicago. "She tapped into a real hard nerve out there in the community. People are really concerned about gun control and violence. She was smart to focus like a laser on that issue."
Bloomberg's entrance into the race became controversial, at least with the candidates and some voters.
The Democrat-turned-repugican-turned-independent has long taken a vocal stance against guns. He launched his super PAC weeks before the November election and spent more than $12 million to back seven candidates nationwide, including newly elected Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod, a California Democrat who ousted an incumbent during a race where guns were an issue.
On Tuesday, Kelly told supporters that she would work with Obama and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to get gun control legislation through Congress.
However, gun-rights advocates dismissed the notion that Kelly's election and Bloomberg's attention would fuel the debate on gun control.
"This is an aberration," said Illinois State Rifle Association spokesman Richard Pearson. "This shows what you can do with $2 million in an offseason race. He bought the election."
Another Democratic front-runner, Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale, also took issue with the ads, saying people were "extremely upset" that someone from New York was trying to tell people in Illinois how to vote.
"That's what money gets you," he said after conceding the race. "We earned every vote."
Roughly 14 percent of registered voters came to the polls, an estimate Chicago officials called the lowest turnout in decades. Adding to the problem was a blast of wintry weather that snarled traffic and could have kept some voters home.
But those who did cast ballots indicated that guns, ethics and economic woes were on their minds.
Mary Jo Higgins of Steger, a south Chicago suburb, said she voted for Halvorson because the former congresswoman was "the only Democrat who believes in the Second Amendment."
But Country Club Hills minister Rosemary Gage said she voted for Kelly because she was "standing with (Obama) and trying to get rid of guns."
"It's really bad in Chicago and across the country," Gage said. "Too many children have died."

Rep. Keith Ellison Goes on Faux News and Absolutely Destroys Sean Hannity

Rep. Keith Ellison completely turned the tables on Sean Hannity. Instead of letting Hannity talk through and roll over him, Ellison destroyed Hannity with his own tactics.

Rep. Ellison has been on Hannity’s show before. He knew what was coming, and he didn’t let Hannity follow the standard Faux News script. Hannity set up the interview with all of standard edited video clips of Obama and repugican talking points, but things didn’t go as expected from the moment Rep. Ellison started to speak. Within the first 12 seconds of the interview Ellison calls Hannity the worst excuse for a journalist he’s ever seen. Hannity replied, “What? I didn’t hear you.” Ellison shot back, “You heard me.” Ellison continued, “What you just displayed wasn’t anything close to journalism. It was yellow journalism. It wasn’t anything close to try to tell the American people what is really going on, and it’s just shocking.”
Hannity tried to defend his edited video/repugican talking points attack on the president by claiming he was, “playing Obama in his own words.” Ellison called Hannity’s hackery deceptive, and told the Faux News host that he had just violated every journalistic ethic that he had ever heard of. Hannity tried to hide behind the I am not a repugican, I am an Independent excuse. Ellison smacked that down by saying, “You are nothing, but a repugican.” Ellison called Hannity a “shill for the repugican cabal.” Hannity told Rep. Ellison to keep ranting, so he did. He told the viewers to ignore all of Sean Hannity’s commentary because Obama is telling the truth.
The Minnesota Democrat literally destroyed Hannity’s entire format. Hannity got so desperate that he pulled a Romney and offered to bet Ellison $10,000 that he is a registered wingnut. Hannity ended up begging for a chance to speak on his own show.
Rep. Ellison did everything that frustrated viewers having been wishing someone would come on Sean Hannity’s show and do. Things got so bad for Hannity that he employed the Faux News cut and run, and ended the interview early.
Keith Ellison’s performance on Hannity was a textbook example of how a Democrat should handle appearing on Faux News. The Faux News formula is to use segment introductions and questions that box the Democrat into the repugican narrative. Ellison understood this, took control of the interview from the moment it began, and never gave it back to Hannity.
Rep. Ellison rolled Sean Hannity on his own show.
In the broader context, Ellison’s performance is a reflection of the confidence that Democrats are feeling right now. They are at the height of their powers, and Faux News is just a speed bump.
Sean Hannity finally got called out, and it couldn’t have happened to more deserving poor excuse for a journalist.