2016 National Popular Vote Tracker
Hilary Clinton Lead in Popular Votes Now Over 2.5 Million
Andrew Tobias: Two Ways to Go Today
This being my FIVE THOUSANDTH COLUMN (according to WordPress; actually, it seems not to have archived the first 100 or so, but why quibble?), I could either try to write something exceptional today - or just take the day off.
Alex Needham: "The Rolling Stones: 'We are theatre and reality at the same time'" (The Guardian)
The band's best album in decades is an 'accidental' covers collection of songs by their early heroes. Backstage in Boston they talk about playing until they're dead, Prince opening for them in his knickers and what Bob Dylan really thinks about his Nobel prize.
Stuff The Media Reports As True, Side By Side With The Truth (Cracked)
Boy, the news media is just so whacky with its crazy news stories that are probably based on lies and misinformation, yet they're going to keep reporting it anyway and quietly issue a retraction later. But, by then, the damage has already been done. Way to go, major news outlets. Way. To. Go.
Gavin Haynes: "Haranguing Chad: how Nickelback became pop's ultimate punchline" (The Guardian)
Canadian police have warned criminals that part of their punishment will include having to listen to the 'Back. From Sting to Phil Collins, some acts just can't escape being the butt of our jokes.
Evan R. Goldstein: The New Intellectuals (Chronicle of Higher Education)
Is the academic jobs crisis a boon to public culture?
Weight Loss (NutritionFacts.org)
Obesity metabolically contributes to insulin resistance because of free fatty acid spillover into the blood. Even vegetarians are, on average, overweight in the United States but those eating more strictly plant-based diets average an ideal body weight. Meat has been found to increase the risk of being overweight, obesity, and obesity related diseases. This may be due, in part, to the consumption of chickens which are themselves obese and may be infected by an obesity-causing virus.
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"Doug's Most Shared Facebook Post" Today
Michelle in AZ
Jeannie the Teed-Off Temp
from Marc Perkel
from that Mad Cat, JD
THE "CLOUD" AND THE EARTH TEAM UP.
THE "OLD WHITE MAN JESUS" IS DEAD.
SO LONG CETACEANS!
"…JUST AS IF HE WAS BORN IN KENYA."
Visit JD's site - Kitty Litter Music
In The Chaos Household
U.S. military veterans were arriving on Thursday at a camp to join thousands of activists braving snow and freezing temperatures to protest a pipeline project near a Native American reservation in North Dakota.
Protesters have spent months rallying against plans to route the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, saying it poses a threat to water resources and sacred Native American sites.
State officials on Monday ordered activists to vacate the Oceti Sakowin camp, located on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, citing harsh weather conditions. Officials said on Wednesday however that they will not actively enforce the order.
Matthew Crane, a 32-year-old Navy veteran who arrived three days ago, said the veterans joining the protest were "standing on the shoulders of Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi" with the their plans to shield protesters.
"I bought a one-way ticket," he told Reuters as he worked to build a wooden shelter at the main camp. "Hopefully we can shut this down before Christmas."
Lincoln Center To Remember
New York's Lincoln Center on Wednesday announced a low-key memorial for legendary poet and singer Leonard Cohen next week, with the art complex simply to play his songs.
Lincoln Center -- the campus of premier US art institutions including the Metropolitan Opera and New York Philharmonic -- said the remembrance event will take place on Monday.
Recordings of Cohen's music, as selected by his fans and friends, will play for four hours starting at noon (1700 GMT) at Lincoln Center's outdoor plaza regardless of weather.
"There are no speakers and no live performances," Lincoln Center said in a statement.
The event is being put together by Hal Willner, a veteran music producer behind a 2005 tribute show for Cohen in Sydney that gave birth to the documentary film "Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man."
Urged To Respect Scientific Integrity
Dear Donald Trump: The scientific community is watching.
More than 2,300 scientists, including 22 Nobel Prize winners, signed an open letter urging the president-elect and the incoming 115th Congress to ensure that the federal government will support scientific inquiry and rely upon it when shaping public policy.
The letter, published earlier this week, lays out four crucial steps the Trump administration and Congress can take to strengthen the role of science in policymaking: Foster "a strong and open culture of science," ground public safeguards like the Clean Air Act firmly in scientific knowledge, adhere to high standards for scientific integrity and independence and provide adequate resources for federal scientists to conduct their work.
Many scientists are alarmed by Trump's election in part because of the antagonism he displayed toward their collective endeavor. This included spreading climate change skepticism, suggesting vaccines cause autism and making wildly inaccurate claims about everything from voter fraud to the unemployment rate.
The signers, who hail from all 50 states, said the well-being and health of people in the United States and beyond is improved when U.S. policies are informed by "science unfettered by inappropriate political or corporate influence."
Urge Action To Protect Heritage Sites
Five Nobel prize winners called Thursday for urgent international action to protect world heritage sites from the destruction wrought by extremist groups and conflicts.
In an appeal launched on the eve of an international conference in Abu Dhabi, the laureates pointed to the irreparable damage that has been done to some of the world's most treasured ancient sites in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Mali.
"Part of our history has been lost forever, with the goal of fanaticism being to undermine our hope for the future," they said.
The signatories included Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former UN chief Kofi Annan.
They also included Nobel literature laureates Orhan Pamuk of Turkey and Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru.
Breitbart News Wages All-Out Attack
Breitbart News has unleashed a full-scale campaign against Kellogg Co. after the food manufacturer announced that it was discontinuing ads on the alt-right website because it is not "aligned with our values as a company."
On Wednesday, Breitbart kicked off an online boycott with the hashtag #DumpKelloggs, which briefly became the top-trending term on Twitter in the U.S. As of Thursday at 11 a.m. PT, Breitbart claims more than 145,000 people have signed its online petition against the company. The site has created an image showing all of Kellogg's brands.
Breitbart - which critics accuse of producing a virulent stream of racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic material - has come under new scrutiny after executive chairman Steve Bannon joined Donald Trump's campaign as CEO, and since has been tapped as chief strategist and senior counselor to the president-elect. Bannon has said he is taking an extended leave of absence from Breitbart and will have no involvement with the company during his tenure in the Trump administration.
While other advertisers including Allstate and Warby Parker have also pulled ads from Breitbart, so far Kellogg appears to be the sole target of the far-right site.
Expanded Hacking Powers
A last-ditch effort in the Senate to block or delay rule changes that would expand the U.S. government's hacking powers failed Wednesday, despite concerns the changes would jeopardize the privacy rights of innocent Americans and risk possible abuse by the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Democratic Senator Ron Wyden attempted three times to delay the changes, which will take effect on Thursday and allow U.S. judges will be able to issue search warrants that give the FBI the authority to remotely access computers in any jurisdiction, potentially even overseas. His efforts were blocked by Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate's second-ranking Republican.
Magistrate judges can currently only order searches within the jurisdiction of their court, which is typically limited to a few counties.
In a speech from the Senate floor, Wyden said that the changes to Rule 41 of the federal rules of criminal procedure amounted to "one of the biggest mistakes in surveillance policy in years."
He added that such authority, which was approved by the Supreme Court in a private vote earlier this year, but was not subject to congressional approval, was especially troubling in the hands of an administration of President-elect Trump, a Republican who has "openly said he wants the power to hack his political opponents the same way Russia does."
Activists Deride Burial Rule
Texas' newly adopted amendments requiring the burial or cremation of fetal remains every time a woman has an abortion are set to take effect on Dec. 19.
The state's Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) adopted the new rules on behalf of the state's Department of State Health Services (DSHS) on Monday. They will prevent abortion providers from disposing of fetal remains in sanitary landfills, "regardless of period of gestation."
Activists say the new rules place an unconstitutional burden on a woman seeking an abortion, which is a legally protected procedure after the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. There is also concern that the new rules could lead to more women performing unsafe abortions outside of medical facilities.
"These new restrictions reveal the callous indifference that Texas politicians have toward women," David Brown, the senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. "Forcing a woman to pay for a burial after she ends a pregnancy or experiences a miscarriage is not just absurd - it is an unnecessary burden and an intrusion on her personal beliefs."
After the rules were first proposed in July, there was considerable pushback from abortion-rights advocates and the medical community, prompting the HHSC to make several changes.
In our continued coverage of extended metaphors for this tumultuous year, here's a holiday-themed analogy of well-intentioned calamity.
The tale starts out quaintly enough. In the Swedish town of Gävle, there is a lovely holiday tradition of erecting a charming goat effigy.
The structure, complete with red ribbons and twinkling lights, is built in tribute to the Scandinavian Yule Goat, a time-honored symbol of the season.
The town gathers around the structure to greet the goat on the first day of Advent. According to the BBC, this year (for the goat's 50th anniversary) around 2.3m kronor (£200,000; $250,000) was spent on its construction and the associated festivities.
Another unofficial ritual that has sprung up around this picturesque custom? Arson.
May Ease Anxiety, Depression
The psychedelic drug in "magic mushrooms" can quickly and effectively help treat anxiety and depression in cancer patients, an effect that may last for months, two small studies show.
It worked for Dinah Bazer, who endured a terrifying hallucination that rid her of the fear that her ovarian cancer would return. And for Estalyn Walcoff, who says the drug experience led her to begin a comforting spiritual journey.
The work released Thursday is preliminary and experts say more definitive research must be done on the effects of the substance, called psilocybin.
But the record so far shows "very impressive results," said Dr. Craig Blinderman, who directs the adult palliative care service at the Columbia University Medical Center/New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He didn't participate in the work.
Psilocybin, also called shrooms, purple passion and little smoke, comes from certain kinds of mushrooms. It is illegal in the U.S., and if the federal government approves the treatment, it would be administered in clinics by specially trained staff, experts say.
Andrew Sachs, a Germany-born British actor best known for his role opposite John Cleese on the seminal UK sitcom Fawlty Towers, has died. He was 86. He died November 23 in a London nursing home, but the news was announced today.
Born on April 7, 1930, in Berlin, Sachs moved with his parents to England at age 8, when they fled the increasing persecution of the Nazi regime. Growing up in London, Sachs began his career as an assistant stage manager in Bexhill, East Sussex, while performing in plays. He later served as a stage manager in Liverpool and finally moved back to London, where he auditioned constantly for roles with BBC before being hired as a writer. During the period he also appeared onstage in the Whitehall farce Simple Spymen.
His film debut came in 1958 with The Night We Dropped a Clanger, before going on to a host of roles on television throughout the 1960s, including appearances on such shows as The Saint and Randall and Hopkirk.
In 1975 he would land his best-known role, the bumbling Spanish waiter Manuel on Fawlty Towers. One of British sitcom history's most iconic characters, Manuel was a well-intentioned but confused and disorganized waiter from Barcelona whose English was spotty and who was constantly berated and assaulted by his boss Basil Fawlty (Cleese). Sachs paid a physical price for the role, being injured twice on set, including once being burned by acid. The character proved one of the most popular of the series; Sachs appeared in both of the show's series and would reprise the role in radio adaptations of Fawlty Towers, providing linking narration.
After Fawlty Towers ended, Sachs continued to work regularly. In 2009, at age 79, he was brought on for 29 episodes of the long-running soap Coronation Street, and he appeared in the 2012 films Run for Your Wife and Quartet. Other film and TV appearances from throughout his career include Nothing Barred (1961), Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973), Are You Being Served? (1977) and Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I (1981), in which he appeared during the film's French Revolution-set final segment.
Sachs also had numerous radio roles and voice-over narration roles. They include Father Brown in an adaptation of GK Chesterton's detective priest stories, radio productions of Sherlock Holmes and PG Wodehouse's The Code of the Woosters and narrating all five series of BBC's The Trouble Shooters.
Sachs briefly was catapulted into international notoriety in 2008 after receiving an obscene phone call from Russell Brand and television presenter Jonathan Ross during an episode of Brand's BBC radio show. Brand had been bragging about having had a sexual relationship with Sachs' granddaughter. The BBC would later issue an apology for Brand's behavior, and Brand resigned from the network.
Sachs retired from acting in 2012 after being diagnosed with vascular dementia. He's survived by his wife of 56 years, Melody Lang; his three children; and grandchildren.