Tomato: fruit or vegetable? In 1893, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Nix v. Hedden that the tomato is legally a vegetable and not a fruit
, botanical definitions be damned. In 2001, the European Union disagreed
, saying that "tomatoes, the edible parts of rhubarb stalks, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, melons and water-melons are considered to be fruit". [more inside]
posted by davidjmcgee
on Nov 17, 2011 -
Although much has been said
about the demographic composition of the United States Congress, much less has been said about the thousands of staffers who work behind the scenes, drafting legislation, interacting with constituents, and advising their congressperson. The National Journal has created two infographics
that attempt to describe this silent, but influential workforce.
posted by schmod
on Jun 20, 2011 -
In a 32 page report to Congress [pdf]
President Obama concludes:
...the current U.S. military operations in Libya are consistent
with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require
further congressional authorization, because U.S. military
operations are distinct from the kind of “hostilities”
contemplated by the Resolution’s 60 day termination provision.
Now, the New York Times reports
that this legal opinion was reached by rejecting the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department. It is instructive to compare President Obama's actions
with those of his predecessor, George W. Bush. [more inside]
posted by ennui.bz
on Jun 20, 2011 -
The Patriot Act lives!
The US House of Representatives has agreed to extend some of surveillance powers granted by the 2001 Patriot Act after the 9/11 attacks.
In a 275-144 vote, the chamber voted to extend until December provisions on wiretaps, access to business records and surveillance of terror suspects.
posted by Philipschall
on Feb 15, 2011 -
It's Election Day in America
, and as is so often the case in this fickle
land, the results of the 2010 midterm elections are up in the air. Although President Obama's party is expected to suffer significant losses, record numbers of districts remain competitive
, and even minute errors in polling could mean the difference between a historic Republican landslide
and an unexpectedly robust Democratic defense
. At stake are control of not just the Senate and House, but myriad state and local offices, many of which will play key roles in the dynamics of the 2012 presidential race -- and, more subtly but no less crucially, the once-in-a-decade congressional redistricting
process. Much uncertainty surrounds the behavior of the electorate -- how many will turn out, and how informed will they be? To help move those statistics in the right direction, look inside for voter guides, national and state fact checkers, and an assortment of other resources to keep tabs on as the results roll in. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Nov 2, 2010 -
Radio, RIAA: mandatory FM radio in cell phones is the future.
'Music labels and radio broadcasters can't agree on much, including whether radio should be forced to turn over hundreds of millions of dollars a year to pay for the music it plays. But the two sides can agree on this: Congress should mandate that FM radio receivers be built into cell phones, PDAs, and other portable electronics. The Consumer Electronics Association, whose members build the devices that would be affected by such a directive, is incandescent with rage. "The backroom scheme of the [National Association of Broadcasters] and RIAA to have Congress mandate broadcast radios in portable devices, including mobile phones, is the height of absurdity," thundered CEA president Gary Shapiro. Such a move is "not in our national interest."
"Rather than adapt to the digital marketplace, NAB and RIAA act like buggy-whip industries that refuse to innovate and seek to impose penalties on those that do."
But the music and radio industries say it's a consumer-focused proposition, one that would provide "more music choices."' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword
on Aug 16, 2010 -
Earlier today, the first Viet Nam veteran ever elected to congress, died.
(as of this past Saturday, Pennsylvania’s longest serving congressman) was the 19 term representative of Pennsylvania’s 12th district, most notably the home of Johnstown
, and which for most of his service included Shanksville
. He was a hawkish, conservative Democrat, infamous for his involvement in the Abscam controversy
, and most recently the FBI’s inquiry into the lobbying firm PMA
. He could be said to have been very representative, and certainly very supportive
of his blue collar district—Pro-gun
, and at first a supporter of the invasion of Iraq
, but eventually one of its greatest critics
. But that criticism came at a price
John Murtha was 77. [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan
on Feb 8, 2010 -
In 2000, the Library of Congress celebrated its 200th birthday by inviting representatives and members of the public from each of the 50 American states to nominate folk traditions, local customs, and special places to a "century's-end time capsule" called the Local Legacies Project
. A nice little introductory catalog to points of local pride, like Fountain Green, Utah's Lamb Day, Oakland, CA's Black Cowboy Parade
, Kentucky's Bourbon tradition
, and Binghamton, NY's Spiedie Fest
, and plenty more. [more inside]
posted by Miko
on Feb 5, 2010 -