"It’s been nearly 6 years since the series finale of The West Wing, and more than 12 since the one-hour drama, which [Aaron] Sorkin created and largely wrote, first walked and talked its way through NBC’s Wednesday-night lineup; and yet you might think the series never ended, given the currency it still seems to enjoy in Washington, the frequency with which it comes up in D.C. conversations and is quoted or referenced on political blogs. In part this is because the smart, nerdy—they might prefer “precocious”—kids who grew up in the early part of the last decade worshipping the cool, technocratic charm of Sorkin’s characters have today matured into the young policy prodigies and press operatives who advise, brief, and excuse the behavior of the most powerful people in the country."
14 Year Old Buys House in Florida Meet Willow Tufano, age 14: Lady Gaga fan, animal lover, landlord. [more inside]
Just in time for International Womens Day, it's Narrow the Gap, a look at the unbalanced payrolls of American workers based on US Department of Labor statistics from a variety of industries.
The Library of Congress has posted a series of colour photos from the 1930s and 1940s online. [more inside]
In 1976, American students put their Tricentennial imaginings to paper. Some larger versions of the drawings are available over at Buzzfeed.
According to a report by Democracy Corps, the Republican "brand" in US politics is collapsing.
"Canada exists for no natural reason.... [This] is not to say that no significant differences exist between Canadians and Americans — just that our shared national border, unlike those of Europe, was not shaped by linguistic and ethnic variations. The War of 1812 made all the difference here. A complicated and unpleasant struggle, mostly forgotten, sundered our two countries. And that struggle is now 200 years old, which makes this as good a time as any to start remembering."
Marriage is a luxury good [NYT] After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage. [more inside]
"First Kill is a war documentary that explores the dark side of man and the psychology of soldiers at war. Vietnam veterans are interviewed about their experiences and what war does to the human mind and soul." [1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8]
Historian Michael Kazin says that we are witnessing the end of the Religious Right's influence in American politics. Peter Montgomery of Alternet says not to declare the Christian Right dead quite yet.
We're All State Capitalists Now 'No, according to some commentators, the contest between the two Asian superpowers is also fundamentally a contest between economic models: market capitalism vs. state capitalism.' [more inside]
A student group has a novel idea to reduce college costs: pay nothing up front, instead paying out 5% of their income to the UC system for 20 years after graduation.
Inmates and their families pay much higher rates for phone calls than average consumers. Most of this is due to kickbacks received by the prison system from providers. This has led to a marked increase in the use of contraband cell phones. Government recently commissioned the GAO to explore lower cost alternatives.
There are several groups trying to pass bills in different states to ban the application of foreign laws in a US court, especially Sharia law. These groups are almost all using model legislation drafted by anti-Muslim activist David Yerushalmi.
You may not know who the Costacos Brothers are. But if you were a sports fan in the US during the 1980's, chances are that you had one of their posters up in your room.
How the Glock Became America's Weapon of Choice The Glock was created in 1982 by a curtain rod manufacturer named Gaston Glock. Glock didn't like the handguns available on the market and decided to manufacture a new gun from scratch. [more inside]
In a unanimous decision [PDF], the Supreme Court has ruled on United States v. Jones and found that placement of a GPS tracker on a car by police is a violation of the fourth amendment—but is the ruling as clear-cut as it seems? [more inside]
David Grann of the New Yorker writes about the power of the Aryan Brotherhood inside America's federal prisons.
This past November, news broke of a rather odd domestic terror plot that had been broken up by the FBI. Four senior citizens in northern Georgia who met regularly at a local Waffle House, were allegedly planning to spread ricin and botulinum toxin in Atlanta and Washington, DC, in order to kill millions of people and "save the Constitution." But was there ever really a conspiracy?
Everyone knows America's Oldest Brewery is D.G. Yuengling & Son (and daughters) of Pottsville, PA (and Tampa, FL) This family owned brewery was established as the "Eagle Brewery" in 1829 by a German immigrant named David Gottlob Jüngling. After the original brewery burned down in 1831 it was relocated to its current location. It was built into a mountain with caves dug into the side, a common practice to preserve beer and to achieve the cool temperatures required to make lager before refrigeration. Yuengling spent most of its history as a small regional brewery and only began to attract national attention years after the launch of Yuengling Traditional Lager in 1987, which went on to become the flagship product of the company and now accounts for 80% of Yuengling's production. On the strength of that growth, and with other brewers being bought out by or outsourcing production to foreign companies, Yuengling has now passed The Boston Beer Company to claim the title of America's largest brewing company as well. In this globalized beer era where giants war for market share, products from America's new largest brewer are only available in 14 states.
The Gay Rights Movement in 7 minutes. [SLYT]
The U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program has been training the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) in mine and swimmer detection for many years. (The program was declassified in the 1990s.) Military dolphins were used in the first and second Gulf Wars, and there are rumors they are deployed in the Gulf today. These animals could be important if Iran blockades the Hormuz Strait as threatened.
What's one thing the major GOP candidates can all agree on? Why, the need to be hard on porn, of course. Morality in Media (MIM, previously) recently revealed that presidential hopefuls Santorum, Romney, and Gingrich had all affirmed the group's drive for "enforcement of obscenity laws". And the multi-billion-dollar per year industry? Adult Video News responds to the campaign (nsfw ads).
Canada declares its "canadacy" in the race for US President (The Canada Party on Twitter; also spotted on HuffPo)
In March last year, the unmanned X-37B US military spaceplane launched from Cape Canaveral on mission USA-226, to "demonstrate various experiments", sensors and technology. Its original 270 day mission was extended in November "as circumstances allow" for "additional experimentation opportunities", but a dedicated group of optical tracking specialists in the US and Europe believe that the X-37B is in fact spying on the Chinese space station Tiangong-1. [more inside]
The goal of the [education reform] program that Finland instituted was never excellence. It was equity. Excellence was merely a happy byproduct.
"From extreme drought, heat waves and floods to unprecedented tornado outbreaks, hurricanes, wildfires and winter storms, a record 12 weather and climate disasters in 2011 each caused $1 billion or more in damages". The US National Weather service has put together a great online exhibit of what was a whirlwind (*ahem*) year for extreme weather events. The exhibit has lots of videos and photographs of these events, such as satellite imagery of the Grounhog Day Blizzard from back in February and a picture of a car damaged by a tornado in Ft. Benning, GA.
Shockingly, Newt Gingrich does not own newtgingrich.com. Instead, a group of pranksters called American Bridge 21st Century have used the domain to redirect visitors to various sites and stories that cast him in a negative light. For maximum entertainment, copy and paste the URL into your address bar. Lather, rinse, repeat. [more inside]
Mohammed el Gorani, the youngest prisoner held at Guantánamo, has written a memoir of his time there, the lead up to his imprisonment, and subsequent release years later.
After she retired, Lynn Zwerling decided to teach knitting to prisoners. The program has seen some success.
Penn Jillette: An Atheist's Guide to the 2012 Election. [SLYT] Via BigThink, "A knowledge forum featuring the ideas, lessons, stories and advice of leading experts from around the world."
"This is the true ‘bomb’ contained in Obamacare and the one item that will have more impact on the future of how medical care is paid for in this country than anything we’ve seen in quite some time. Indeed, it is this aspect of the law that represents the true ‘death panel’ found in Obamacare—but not one that is going to lead to the death of American consumers. Rather, the medical loss ratio will, ultimately, lead to the death of large parts of the private, for-profit health insurance industry."
Anticipating a season long lockout, several NBA players signed contracts with teams in the Chinese Basketball Association. Now that a labor deal has been reached, leaving for the NBA won't be easy.
In 2008, Barack Obama lit a fire among young activists. Next year, Occupy Wall Street could consume him.
The Netanyahu government has paid for US TV ads saying US Israelis will never understand what it means to be Israeli, and American Jews will lose their religion
As the Occupy protests spread, the latest phenomenon to emerge is the Stealthy Wealthy. Sensitive to negative perceptions of extreme wealth inequality in hard times, and concerned about the possibility of history repeating itself, the super-rich have been swapping their limousines for nondescript-looking yet luxuriously outfitted cargo vans.
The Nation's William Deresiewicz looks at Ann Beattie's evolution as a writer.
US President Barack Obama is in Australia today. The main policy announcement is a new, permanent US Marine Corps presence on Australian soil. This is interpreted unambiguously as a 'containment strategy' for China and other Asian nations, with Australia playing the loyal deputy Sheriff. Most Australians don't think we should be forced to choose.
In 1933, Anthony Marino, Joe Murphy, Frank Pasqua and Dan Kriesberg decided to make money by taking out life insurance on drunks and then letting the victims drink themselves to death. Then they encountered Mike Malloy...