Michele Hanson: In a world of fear and loathing, we need art more than ever (The Guardian)
Attempts to downgrade the importance of art in education are plain wrong. Creativity is transforming lives, and always will.
Suzanne Moore: London as a separate city-state? The capital needs to check its privilege (The Guardian)
Wanting to be rid of those horrible leave voters in the provinces is unbelievably smug and narcissistic. And remember, snobs: class contempt works both ways.
Mark Morford: When fear wins: Brexit, the vicious cautionary tale (SF Gate)
This is what happens when you enflame and provoke to the point of vicious irrationality. This is what happens when you make vague and heartless, crass, openly racist, fear-based, hyper-jingoistic promises that are impossible to deliver and will actually only make things far, far worse. And quickly.
Jamelle Bouie: Bernie Blew It (Slate)
Elizabeth Warren is the surrogate he was supposed to be. His supporters have become Clinton's. How Sanders overplayed his hand.
Mark Morford: Dems' Historic #NoBillNoBreak sit-in flusters Republicans, gains potency (SF Gate)
A small army of House Democrats, along with dozens of Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren and, yes, Bernie Sanders, all led by Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga) continued their historical, unprecedented sit-in/protest throughout Wednesday, all over the floor of the House, much to befuddled Republicans' chagrin, merely in order to force a vote on what might be the meekest, most ridiculously obvious, no-brainer bill in American history, the bipartisan "no fly, no gun" bill, that would prohibit anyone on the FBI's terrorist watch list from purchasing a firearm.
Elissa Strauss: Experiences Over Stuff Is a Tired-and Sexist-Idea (Slate)
Domestic stuff-our couch, our dining table, the bathtub, the dishwasher-don't just serve as the backdrop to my life; they are the tools we use while engaging with one another, and ourselves. Experiences. I'm living what Thoreau would likely consider "not life," and I find it far more life-affirming than anything I could achieve alone in a cabin in the woods. A pity Thoreau never gave it a shot.
Willa Paskin: BrainDead (Slate)
The satirical D.C. zombie comedy from the creators of The Good Wife would be funny if it felt like satire at all.
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Smithsonian's Main Floor
Star Trek's Enterprise
"Star Trek" was a TV series about boldly going "where no man has gone before," but a model of its titular spaceship has been stuck in the basement gift shop of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum since it was donated in 1974. That's changing Tuesday, when the ship will warp up to the main atrium, complete with a restored paint job.
"It's been brought into the light because, over time, its historical significance has grown," museum conservator Malcolm Collum told the Washington Post in one of the great understatements of the 21st century.
"Star Trek" has had an immeasurable impact on science and space exploration since it arrived on the air in 1966. Not only has it spawned books, movies, video games and seven spinoff shows (the latest of which is set to premiere on CBS next year, but it's also inspired the design of key technologies like mobile phones, tablets and voice-activated computers.
The move comes just in time for the museum's 40th anniversary on July 1.
Star Trek's Enterprise
Western GOP Strongholds
Democrats in some of the reddest pockets of the interior West have nominated transgender women for Congress, sending a message of inclusivity in races many consider unwinnable for the party.
Misty Snow was nominated Tuesday in Utah to challenge GOP U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, and Misty Plowright won a primary to challenge Republican Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn in the state's most conservative congressional district.
Both candidates are downplaying gender identity in their primary contests.
"Yeah, I'm trans, but the simple fact of the matter is that a lot of people just don't care," said Plowright, 51, a first-time candidate who decided to run after attending Democratic presidential caucuses earlier this year and being inspired by the presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
"I've kind of felt like a coward for a long time, because I was scared to get out there," said Plowright, who is running in a district that is home to the conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family. "I realized, you have to risk getting your head cracked open; you have to risk getting shot; you have to put it all out there."
Mummified, 99-Million-Year-Old Wings
About 99 million years ago, a hummingbird-size bird likely fought for its life after getting stuck in a glob of tree resin, but it couldn't tear itself away and eventually died, leaving its feathers to mummify in what became a lump of amber, a new study finds.
The soft resin even captured evidence of the bird's wriggling and writhing in an effort to free itself.
"There appear to be claw marks in the resin, which would suggest a struggle," said co-lead study researcher Ryan McKellar, a curator of invertebrate paleontology at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada. [See Images of the Mummified Bird Wings
Another preserved wing found in the clump of amber "appears to be a severed limb that may have been torn off by a predator, or may have floated free from the rest of the corpse due to resin flows," McKellar told Live Science in an email. "The broken end of the bone is fully encapsulated in amber."
Both wing fragments are only a few centimeters in length, and are likely from the same species of ancient bird, the researchers said. Moreover, the findings are the first concrete examples of follicles, feather tracts and bare skin from Cretaceous
Fails To Sell
Lucara Diamond Corp's giant Lesedi la Rona gem, the biggest uncut diamond to be discovered in over a century, failed to sell at a Sotheby's auction in London on Wednesday after bids fell short of the minimum reserve price, the company said.
As a result, Lucara will be retaining the 1,109-carat stone, it said in a statement. The tennis ball-sized gem was discovered by the Vancouver-based company in its Botswana mine last November.
The auction house had estimated that the diamond would sell for more than $70 million. The highest bid was $61 million, according to posts on Twitter.
The Lesedi la Rona, which means "Our Light" in the Tswana language spoken in Botswana, is the world's second-biggest gem quality diamond ever recovered, and the largest in more than a century.
The biggest is the Cullinan diamond, a 3,106-carat stone found in South Africa in 1905.
'America First' Echoes
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (R-Grifter) boils down his foreign policy agenda to two words: "America First."
For students of U.S. history, that slogan harkens back to the tumultuous presidential election of 1940, when hundreds of thousands of Americans joined the anti-war America First Committee. That isolationist group's primary goal was to keep the United States from joining Britain in the fight against Nazi Germany, which by then had overrun nearly all of Europe. But the committee is also remembered for the unvarnished anti-Semitism of some of its most prominent members and praise for the economic policies of Adolf Hitler.
The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organization, sent Trump a letter two months ago urging him to refrain from using "America First." The group also took $56,000 that Trump and his family foundation had donated to it over the years and redirected the money to new anti-bias and anti-bullying education programs.
"For many Americans, the term 'America First' will always be associated with and tainted by this history," said Jonathan Greenblatt, the group's chief executive. "In a political season that already has prompted a national conversation about civility and tolerance, choosing a call to action historically associated with incivility and intolerance seems ill-advised."
The America First Committee was founded in spring 1940 at Yale University by students that included future U.S. president Gerald Ford and future Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart. Future President John F. Kennedy contributed $100. Within months, France had capitulated to the Germans and England appeared on the verge of collapse. The committee was soon the largest anti-war organization in U.S. history, with more than 800,000 dues-paying members.
Woody Guthrie Sings About 'America First'
Packers Analogy Backfires
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R-Schmuck) may have thought a Green Bay Packers analogy about teachers would be a political touchdown. Instead, his opponents tried to sack him Tuesday for comparing free agency in the NFL with how teachers are paid in his state.
The Republican governor's remarks came after a closed-door listening session in Coon Valley, Wisconsin, when reporters asked whether he thought incentive-driven salary programs would make it harder for K-12 schools to retain teachers.
"If the Green Bay Packers pay people to perform and if they perform well on their team, (the Packers) pay them to do that," Walker said, according to the LaCrosse Tribune. "They don't pay them for how many years they've been on the football team. They pay them whether or not they help (the Packers) win football games."
That drew a sharp rebuke from Democratic state Rep. Sondy Pope, of Mount Horeb, who said Walker's analogy comparing teacher salaries - which average $54,766 in Wisconsin based on National Education Association figures - to NFL players who make millions was "simply ridiculous."
Walker doesn't understand that NFL players have comprehensive representation from union officials to protect and bargain for their wages and benefits, said Democratic Rep. Katrina Shankland, of Stevens Point, a dig at Walker's signature legislative initiative that disallowed collective bargaining for teachers and other public workers.
Sumner Redstone will almost certainly not be in a Massachusetts courtroom on Thursday when his attorneys and those representing Viacom a group of attorneys convenes for a hearing that may shape the future of his media empire.
Public appearances by the 93-year-old Redstone, Viacom's controlling shareholder, have become rare. But public pronouncements by him have not.
In a court filing last week, Redstone chastised Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, who has argued that the aging mogul is being manipulated by his daughter, Shari Redstone.
On Tuesday, Redstone signed his name to another public rebuke of Dauman -- a letter from the board directors of National Amusements the Redstone-owned movie theater chain that controls 80% of Viacom's voting stock.
Tuesday's letter provided, by way of Redstone's signature, a reminder of the central issue in a convoluted legal drama that has at times felt like a Coen brothers screenplay: Redstone's competency.
Dauman and Viacom board member George Abrams have asked a judge in suburban Boston to order an immediate medical examination of Redstone. Viacom lead independent director Fred Salerno requested the same of a Delaware court last week.
Some Coca-Cola Products Unavailable
Coca-Cola Co's said some products would be temporarily unavailable in Vermont stores as the world's largest beverage maker gears up for a GMO-labeling law going into effect on July 1.
Vermont was the first U.S. state to pass a law requiring food companies to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on their products.
"Products containing GMO ingredients will have the required language printed on the label or, in some cases, on stickers," Coca-Cola spokesman Ben Sheidler said in an e-mailed statement.
"To avoid multiple labeling changes, some lower-volume brands and packages we offer within our broad portfolio could be temporarily unavailable in Vermont," Sheidler said.
Many of the company's popular beverages like Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero will continue to be widely available in Vermont stores, he said.
Makes A Return
PepsiCo is going retro. The company is officially bringing back Crystal Pepsi, a clear cola drink that was hugely popular for a brief period during the early 1990s.
Crystal Pepsi will be sold in 20-ounce bottles starting July 11 in Canada and Aug. 8 in the United States.
The soft drink was introduced in 1992. The clear soda caught the imagination and soon hit an iconic status on the back of a slick advertising campaign.
It, however, fell out of favor equally fast and disappeared from shelves in 1994.
Alvin Toffler, the US author and visionary known for several world best-sellers, including "Future Shock" and "The Third Wave," has died at his home in Los Angeles aged 87.
He died late Monday, Toffler Associates, the consultancy firm he founded, said in a statement without giving a reason for his death.
Toffler's groundbreaking book "Future Shock," in which he examined social change, as well as several other books he co-authored with his wife Heidi, made him one of the most respected futurists of the modern era, with world leaders and moguls seeking his advice.
Toffler accurately predicted economic and technological developments -- including cloning, personal computers and the Internet -- as well as the social effects they helped bring about, including social alienation, the decline of the nuclear family and rising crime and drug use. He made the term "information overload" popular.
"Future Shock" was published in more than 50 countries, and more than 15 million copies of the book have been sold, according to Toffler's website.
Toffler is survived by his wife of more than 60 years and business partner, Heidi Toffler.
Prolific Bay Area bassist and composer Rob Wasserman, best known for his long collaboration with Grateful Dead member Bob Weir, has died, according to reports on social media.
Weir had posted about Wasserman being in ill health earlier Wednesday, saying on Twitter, "My great friend Rob Wasserman is facing a serious health struggle today. Please share the strength of our family with him and his family."
Only two hours later, he tweeted that Wasserman had passed away.
Wasserman had reportedly been hospitalized as he battled cancer, but the official cause of death has not been announced.
Wasserman started out playing violin, but moved to stand-up bass as a teen. He studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and played with Van Morrison, Oingo Boingo and mandolin player David Grisman and his quartet. He earned accolades and Downbeat Magazine's Record of the Year award for his 1983 debut recording Solo.
He would also tour and record with such notable songwriters as Rickie Lee Jones, Lou Reed, Neil Young and Elvis Costello, but Wasserman was best known for his work with Bob Weir in a duo (alternately known as Weir/Wasserman and Scaring the Children) and a member of RatDog starting in the mid-1990s.
Wasserman took an extended leave from the band in 2002, but would reunite with the band in 2013.