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Thursday, Jan 29th

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Editorial

CAUGHT RED HANDED

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By Bev Harris, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org

Four hundred and eighty-eight voters, every one of them in the Tennessee district of US Rep Steve Cohen (D-09), all but four lifelong Democrats, and nearly all Black, had their voting history erased by Shelby County election workers, setting them up for purge from the voter list.

To alter voting histories for a selected set of voters, putting them at risk for strategically selected purge, is to demean them, to treat them as if they have less worth as human beings than they do. And to demean them is to wrong them. What Shelby County's election staff has done, in altering the records, is morally wrong.

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About that Hope and Change...

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I've been thinking some -- stewing, really -- trying to get beyond my own reactions to the moment-to-moment outrages, disastrous pratfalls, and assorted, sordid fits characterizing signs of life in our culture and society.

Any number of daily afflictions work us like racehorses at finish lines, galloping us into short attention spans, no time to fix anything, barely enough time to keep track of even half of what's sliding sideways underfoot.

Closely observing politics and its practitioners is a game surely not for the weak-hearted, even less so when the stakes are highest, and the entire country seems to be riding a betting line of poor odds.

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We could be just like Greece

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Initial jobless claims were unchanged for the week, suggesting that jobs continue to be produced albeit at a slow pace. We have recovered more jobs than were lost in private sector from the Bush crash, even in “slow“ months. Obama can take credit for half again what was Bush‘s average month before the crash. If you include the jobs Bush lost at the end (including the early months of Obama‘s term), Bush’s average month was zero new jobs created.

The problem is that Red States have laid off 700,000 teachers, social workers, cops, firefighters and bridge inspectors. This probably killed another two million more private sector jobs that would have produced supplies used by these government workers, or would have benefited from the workers’ spending. Trickle down from the top doesn’t work, but you can drain the economy from the bottom.

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Checkmate within the Margin of Error

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Obama has said his position on Marriage Equality has been evolving, probably not. Public opinion however, has been evolving, as have the demographics. The old, rigid, fearful of gays, generation of voters has been dying off. They’re being replaced by a generation that began voting right after Y2K. Remember the computer panic by that name? It was a real threat, and not just a hoax, but not the end of the world the way the same people who have lately been selling gold made it out to be. (BTW, gold dropped under $1600/oz today, it could be on the way down to $700)

Computers have come along way since Y2K, and they know what you think, literally. Maybe better than you do. Obama’s campaign planners are using computer power that is running algorithms on data sets that were unimagined back when we worried that the year turning over zero would crash the entire world. All the small but trackable moves that Obama’s people have made over the past couple of weeks, and the predictable but also trackable moves that Republicans made in response, gave them the numbers they wanted to see.

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A Great Spirit Surveys Our Ghost of a Chance

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If you've ever wished for a reasonable summary to help explain the inane and insane seas we're all left navigating, your wish has come true:  First, you should know, one man, the explanation's author, has died.

The man was writer and editor Ernest Callenbach.  He died April 16 at 83.  You may know him from the "Ectopia" books, or from the journal he edited, "Film Quarterly."  He wrote, lectured, walked, gardened, and occasionally taught film classes.  He was an advocate of Earth and of simple, and simplified, living.

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Schoolhouse Shock

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You'd think electrically punishing children, as ways of getting their attention, would be outlawed by now in America -- but you would be wrong.  You would have thought this would have come up before now -- and it has, over and over.  And you know: The shocks still go on and on.

* * * * *

My first nudge in the direction of the Judge Rotenberg Center, the JRC, came in an email today, asking for my support, on a petition at Change.org.  It began:

"Hi, my name is Gregory Miller.  I used to work at a school in Massachusetts named [the JRC] where we used powerfully painful electric shock devices (45-91 milliamps at 66 volts) on students to control their behaviors.  These devices are much stronger than police stun guns (1-4 milliamps).  Unlike stun guns, the electrodes most commonly used at school are spaced 3-4 inches apart so that the electrical volts passing through the flesh create the maximum amount of pain with those amps and volts.

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Wheels Within Wheels: The Trauma of Getting from Here to There

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After having the, uh, stuffing beat out of us all week, there is finally a story to make us want to sit up straight, stand up, even cheer, launching rolls of paper streamers into the air:  The land speed record has been set in Australia by a motorized toilet.

Talk about a go-kart-type vehicle with get-up-and-go: This one managed 46 miles an hour on a timed course.

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