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Bryan Cranston: Prom Broker

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Via the BBC:  Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston helps fan win prom date

Tales from the Dumb Side

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Via the AV Club:  Professor suspended for Game Of Thrones shirt that threatened community college kingdom.

That’s Just Fancy Mini-Golf

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Via the NYT:  In a Hole, Golf Considers Digging a Wider Among the unconventional types of golf is an entry-level version in which the holes are 15 inches wide, about four times the width of a standard hole. [...] Another alternative is foot golf, in which players kick a soccer ball from the tee to […]

Escobar’s Hippos

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Via Worldcrunch:  Pablo Escobar’s Hippos Are Running Wild.

Talks in Venezuela

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Via Reuters:  Venezuela’s Maduro meets opposition as death toll from protests rises Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro cautioned opposition leaders to keep their expectations modest on Thursday as he hosted them for mediated talks intended to stem two months of deadly political unrest. Maduro has held similar meetings previously but this was the first to include […]

More Rhetoric over the Falklands

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Via the BBC:  UK Falklands military exercises ‘provoke’ Argentina Argentina has accused the UK of provocation over plans to hold military exercises in the Falkland Islands. It said drills by British forces would include missile launches and were part of a "pattern" of "hostile acts". The British ambassador in Buenos Aires has been summoned by […]

Confrontation Between Rio Police and Squatters

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Via the BBC:  Clashes as police evict squatters in Rio de Janeiro A huge police operation to evict hundreds of families from abandoned buildings in Rio de Janeiro has ended with violent clashes and some injuries. More than 1,500 police officers had arrived at dawn to evict nearly 5,000 people from the site, belonging to […]

Status of Afghan Elections

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Via the BBC:  Afghan poll: Abdullah slightly ahead as count continues Partial results from the Afghan presidential vote show former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah slightly ahead of Ashraf Ghani. With about 500,000 votes in 26 provinces counted, Dr Abdullah has 41.9% with Mr Ghani on 37.6%. [...] The partial results gave another main contender and […]

It’s Not Over in Ukraine

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Via the BBC:  Nato alarm at east Ukraine violence. Lots of details, so just follow the link.

New President in Costa Rica

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Via the BBC:  Leftist Luis Solis wins Costa Rican presidential poll Luis Guillermo Solis of the centre-left Citizen Action Party (PAC) has won the presidential election in Costa Rica. With almost all the votes counted, Mr Solis had 78%. He had been expected to win after his rival – governing party candidate Johnny Araya – […]

Nigeria’s GDP Largest in Africa

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Via the BBC:  Nigeria becomes Africa’s biggest economy Nigeria has "rebased" its gross domestic product (GDP) data, which has pushed it above South Africa as the continent’s biggest economy. Nigerian GDP now includes previously uncounted industries like telecoms, information technology, music, online sales, airlines, and film production. GDP for 2013 totalled 80.3 trillion naira (£307.6bn: […]

Afghans to the Polls

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Via the BBC:  Afghanistan election: Millions vote in presidential poll Eight candidates are seeking to succeed Hamid Karzai, who is barred by the constitution from seeking a third consecutive term as president. [...] Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) secretary Ziaul Haq Amarkhel said seven million people had voted by 17:00 local time, when the polls had […]

New Argentine Peso Features the Falklands

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Via the BBC:  Argentina launches Falklands currency note to mark anniversary Argentina has launched a new 50-peso currency note featuring a map of the Falkland Islands to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the invasion of the British archipelago. First, given the debacle that was the invasion of the Falklands/Las Islas Malvinas by the Argentine military, […]

Of Definitions, Real and Straw

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Charles Koch takes to the pages of the WSJ to fend off the attacks of the “collectivists” against himself, his foundation, company, etc. The piece itself is fairly banal, to be honest.  I am not a fan of the Kochs,* but I will say that he has a point about the unnecessarily personal attacks that […]

Who is Going to Break it to the Cable News Folks?

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Via the BBC:  Missing plane MH370: Malaysia mystery ‘may not be solved’

The Family Business

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Larry Sabato notes:  Dynasty Isn’t Just for Monarchies Anymore and goes on to note, beyond the obvious examples, that “American politics is more of a family affair than you think.”

T-Shirt Activism

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Via FP’s Passport:  Ukrainian Hipsters Say No to Sex with Russians.

Salvadoran Presidential Election Results Confirmed by Court

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Via the BBC:  El Salvador ex-rebel’s presidential victory confirmed El Salvador’s electoral court has confirmed the victory of former left-wing rebel Salvador Sanchez Ceren in a tight presidential run-off election. It said Mr Sanchez Ceren won 50.11% of the votes in the 9 March poll, defeating conservative candidate Norman Quijano, who polled 49.89%. Mr Quijano […]

Thinking about the Opposition in Venezuela

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Some thoughts and links about the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela.

Air Canada Suspends Flights to Venezuela

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Via the BBC:  Air Canada suspends Venezuela flights over ‘civil unrest’ Air Canada has suspended flights to and from Venezuela, citing concerns over security. [...] It operated three return flights between Toronto and Caracas per week. Other airlines are also reacting, although unrest is not the main motivator: Several international airlines have reduced operations in […]

Some History of Separatist Referenda

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See Alicia P. Q. Wittmeyer at FP’s Passport blog.

More Information on the Crimean Referendum Ballot

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Via the BBC:  Crimea referendum: What does the ballot paper say? A quick note:  it should be understood that the option to revert to the Crimean Constitution of 1992 is not a vote for returning to the pre-crisis relationship to Ukraine, but is returning to a period in which Crimea was more autonomous.  Indeed, as […]

A Journey Through Maps of Crimea

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Via the BBC:  Ukraine maps chart Crimea’s troubled past. (Plus a video).

Bachelet Sworn in

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Earlier this week, Michele Bachelet was sworn in to start her second (non-consecutive) term as president of Chile.  Her first term was 2006-2010. Via the BBC:  Michelle Bachelet sworn in as Chile’s president Ms Bachelet is the first Chilean president in over half a century to return for a second term. [...] Ms Bachelet won […]

Photo-Finish in El Salvador’s Presidential Contest

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(Pending a possible recount). Via the BBC:  Salvadorean ex-rebel Sanchez Ceren wins vote – officials Former left-wing rebel Salvador Sanchez Ceren has won a tight presidential run-off election, El-Salvador’s electoral tribunal has said. But his rival has the right to appeal and officials say a final declaration cannot yet be made. Conservative candidate Norman Quijano […]

More Deaths in Venezuela

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Via the BBC:  Venezuela protests: Three killed in fresh unrest Three people have died in fresh protests in Venezuela, this time in the central city of Valencia. A policeman and two other men were shot dead in separate incidents. In Caracas, Venezuelan government supporters and opposition demonstrators took to the streets to hold rival marches. […]

On the Crimean Referendum

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More on the pending referendum and some thoughts on elections in authoritarian contexts.

On Anti-Intellectualism

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Worth a read:  Richard Hofstadter and America’s New Wave of Anti-Intellectualism. it is interesting to note how much of the conversation in contemporary America is not that different from the mid-20th century or so. On quotable passage that struck me: Gore Vidal defined an intellectual as “someone who can deal with abstractions.” Does the mediocrity […]

Protests Continue in Venezuela

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Via the BBC:  Venezuela opposition holds anti-Maduro rally in Caracas Thousands of Venezuelan students and opposition supporters have joined an anti-government rally in the capital, Caracas. The government deployed hundreds of government security forces to prevent a crowd banging pots and pans from marching towards the food ministry. There were similar marches in at least […]

Divisions in Crimea

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Crimea is more divided than Russia would have the world believe. Plus: the Crimean government has no legitimacy at the moment.

Crimea to Join Russia?

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Via the BBC:  Ukraine crisis: Crimea parliament asks to join Russia MPs in Crimea have asked Moscow to allow the southern Ukrainian region to become part of the Russian Federation. Parliament said if its request was granted, Crimean citizens could give their view in a referendum on 16 March. Because, of course, nothing screams legitimate […]

A Test of One’s Second Amendment Resolve

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Via WESH:  Blind man acquitted in fatal shooting gets guns back While Judge John Galluzzo said he did not want to return the guns to Rogers, he said it was the law. Rogers’ guns were confiscated by law-enforcement officers after he fatally shot a man. He was later acquitted. “I have to return property that […]

An Overview of the Venezuelan Economic Situation

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Via CNBC:  Venezuela after Chavez: An economy on the verge. The short version:  not good.

Maduro isn’t Chavez

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One thing is clear: Maduro lacks Chavez’s political skills.

Questions about Venezuela?

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Since I figure most folks only have a passing knowledge of Venezuela, I was curious if there were any specific questions about that I could attempt to answer.  I cannot guarantee that I can provide the answers, as I am not a country-expert on this topic, but ask away and we will see. 

One Illustration Regarding Venezuela

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Despite good intentions, I have not had time to devote to a story that is quite important and is not receiving enough attention:  the events unfolding in Venezuela.  I hope to address some of the relevant issues over the weekend, but instead of trying to do it all in one mega-post, I will also draw […]

The Problem with the House GOP’s Position on Immigration Reform in One Chart

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Yes, the evidence shows you can trust Obama to enforce immigration laws.

Paper Covers Rock!

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Sorry, that was what immediately came to mind upon seeing this photo in a piece in The Atlantic:   Pictured:  the late President Hugo Chávez (Ven), President Dilma Rousseff (Brazil), President José Mujica (Uruguay), and  President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Arg).

The More Things Change… (Argentine Debt Edition)

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Via the BBC:  Argentina tries to delay $1.3bn repayment to creditors Argentina will on Tuesday petition the US courts to try to stall a $1.3bn repayment to its creditors. If the petition to the Supreme Court is not successful, the country risks triggering a default and debt crisis. [...] Argentina has already defaulted on its […]

Amusing Headline of the Day

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Via the BBC:  Synthetic lingerie ban in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. From the video clip: “Why are you afraid of panties?” she shouts.

Basic Math and Representative Blackburn

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Lack of understanding or basic dishonesty?

We’re 46th! USA!

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This is disturbing (or, at least, it ought to be), via Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic:    The United States Just Finished 46th in a Press-Freedom Contest Every year, Reporters Without Borders ranks 180 countries in order of how well they safeguard press freedom. This year, the United States suffered a precipitous drop. The latest Press […]

More on the Gephardt Rule

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Sarah Binder, an expert on Congressional procedures, provided the following back in October:  Reality check: ‘Gephardt Rule’ alone can’t fix the debt limit crisis. She noted three reasons (read the whole thing for the details): First, the Gephardt Rule applies only in the House. [...] Second, the Gephardt Rule did one thing particularly well: It […]

A Tidbit on the Debt Ceiling

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Thankfully, there will be no game of chicken over the debt limit this year, as the Congress did the responsible thing and passed a clean debt limit increase to accommodate spending already budgeted. As many probably know at this point, the origins of the debt ceiling mechanism is the 1917 Liberty Bond Act and over […]

Debt Trouble in Puerto Rico

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Via the BBC:  Puerto Rico’s debt cut to junk status by Fitch Puerto Rico’s debt is 93% of the island’s gross domestic product – a ratio that is higher than that of Spain. The island’s economy has contracted every year since 2006. [...] The current unemployment rate is 14.7% – twice that of the US. […]

Constitutional Changes Ratified in Nicaragua

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Via the BBC:  Nicaragua’s new constitution becomes law Changes to Nicaragua’s constitution have gone into effect, paving the way for its leader, Daniel Ortega, to run for a third consecutive term in 2016. [...] The constitutional changes were approved by 64 votes to 25. The reform scraps the previous rule that the winning candidate needs […]

Unemployment in Greece

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Via the BBC:  Greece jobless rate hits new record of 28% The jobless rate in Greece reached a record high of 28% in November, according to newly released government figures. The rate increased from 27.7% in the previous month. For those under the age of 25, unemployment hit 61.4%. Harsh austerity measures have led the […]

Moore Seeks Convention to Stop Gay Marriage

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Via the AP:  Ala. chief justice jumps into gay marriage fight Roy Moore has sent letters to all 50 governors urging them to get their legislatures to call for a convention to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution recognizing only unions between one man and one woman.     Moore says the country’s moral foundation is […]

Jesse Ventura Needs Hiding Lessons

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Via TPM Livewire:  Jesse Ventura Says He’s Hiding From Drones In Mexico (VIDEO) “I’m off the grid. I move about with my TV show so that the drones can’t find me and you won’t know exactly where I am as long as we have solar power and we can reach the satellite," Ventura said during […]

Horrible Headline of the Day

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Via the BBC:  Cancer ‘tidal wave’ on horizon, warns WHO.

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