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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

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  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Something non-political: The Mysterious Bronze Objects that Have Baffled Archaeologists for Centuries

    The first Roman dodecahedron to intrigue archaeologists was found almost 300 years ago, buried in a field in the English countryside along with some ancient coins. “A piece of mixed metal, or ancient brass, consisting of 12 equal sides,” read the description of the egg-sized object when it was presented to the Society of Antiquaries in London in 1739. The 12 faces had “an equal number of perforations within them, all of unequal diameters, but opposite to one another … every faceing had a knobb or little ball fixed to it.” The antiquarians were flummoxed by the finely crafted metal shell, and what its purpose may have been.
    …………………………
    The 1739 dodecahedron was far from the last discovery of its kind. More than 100 similar objects have since been found at dozens of sites across northern Europe dating to around the 1st to 5th centuries CE. Ranging in size from about a golf ball to a bit larger than a baseball, each one has 12 equally sized faces, and each face has a hole of varying diameter. The objects themselves are all hollow.

    By the mid-19th century, as more were found, the objects became known to archaeologists as dodecahedrons, from the Greek for “12 faces.” They’re on display today in dozens of museums and archaeological collections throughout Europe, although given how little is known about them, their explanatory labels tend to be brief.

    What’s more, they have no paper trail. Historians have found no written documentation of the dodecahedrons in any historical sources. That void has encouraged dozens of competing, and sometimes colorful, theories about their purpose, from military banner ornaments to candleholders to props used in magic spells. The obvious craftsmanship that went into them—at a time when metal objects were expensive and difficult to make—has prompted many researchers to argue they were valuable, an idea that’s supported by the fact that several have been found stashed away with Roman-era coins. But that still doesn’t explain why they were made.
    …………………………..
    Schwarz points to another theory: The dodecahedrons may have been a type of “masterpiece” to show off a craftsman’s metalworking abilities. This might be why they rarely show any signs of wear. “In this respect, the technical function of the dodecahedron is not the crucial point. It is the quality and accuracy of the work piece that is astonishing,” he tells Mental Floss. “One could imagine that a Roman bronze caster had to show his ability by manufacturing a dodecahedron in order to achieve a certain status.”

    Bragging rights. Makes as much sense as anything else

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Something “Shameless Self Promoter in Local Politics”: Sean Hannity’s sheriff friend faces mounting ethics allegations

    Carmine Marceno was a rising Republican star in Florida a year ago, having leveraged his crime-fighting prowess, celebrity friendships and knack for self-promotion to secure the job of Lee county sheriff.

    Sean Hannity told viewers of his primetime Fox News show that Marceno was a “dear friend”. On Marceno’s recommendation, Hannity was made an “honorary deputy” of the county and given a gold star badge. Rick Scott, then Florida’s governor, travelled to speak at Marceno’s swearing-in, having selected him for the role. “I don’t think there’s anybody in the state that is going to do a better job than Carmine,” Scott, now a US senator, said at the time.

    But as he campaigns to be elected sheriff in his own right next year, Marceno’s political sheen appears to be wearing thin.

    The sheriff is facing allegations that he did not properly qualify as a Florida police officer. One of his predecessors has warned that if confirmed, the finding could void every arrest Marceno made and vacate convictions he helped secure.

    The Guardian has identified unusual payments of $24,000 apparently made to another close friend of Marceno from a political committee with connections to his election campaign, and misreported to Florida authorities.

    And Marceno has been accused of inappropriate conduct towards a woman he dated after she reported a crime to his office. The woman alleges the sheriff abused his position and begged her to have an abortion after she became pregnant.

    Always there is “inappropriate conduct” associated with these assholes.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Something UK: US academic given two weeks to leave UK after eight years

    After eight years researching music history at Glasgow University, Elizabeth Ford hoped her request for a visa extension would sail through this summer. Instead, the Home Office gave the American academic two weeks to pack up her life and leave the country.

    Ford has held a research fellowship at Edinburgh University – which, like Glasgow is in the elite Russell Group – and is due to begin a new research fellowship at Oxford University. But this is in jeopardy after a letter from the Home Office in July, which said that her leave to remain, granted a year before, was erroneous, and that she must leave within two weeks.

    Ford, an expert on 18th century Scottish music, who says she loved Scotland from the moment she first set foot there, says: “After eight years I had 14 days to get out. It was truly shocking. I have never felt so unwelcome or so offended.”

    Ford’s case adds to a growing storm over the visa system. While the government has announced plans to offer two-year work visas for international students, nothing similar has been offered to researchers from abroad, who say the process is hostile, cumbersome and punitively expensive. University leaders say the situation could block the talent pipeline to the UK.
    ……………………………………..
    However, it is not only academics who have had their visas refused who are unhappy. The cost of applying for a visa has increased considerably in recent years, and many young researchers are struggling to pay the fees. Dr Jana Bacevic, a sociology research associate on a part-time contract at Cambridge University, earns £1,200 a month. Last month she was horrified to hear that she had to pay £1,500 to cover the costs of extending her visa for a year while she looked for a permanent academic job. She tweeted: “You know what UK? Good night and good luck. I used to love this place with all its flaws, but hey, there are universities on the continent too.”
    …………………….
    One young Indian academic, who asked not to be named in case it prejudices his future visa applications, says the costs felt overwhelming, coming to Liverpool University from Mumbai with his wife and baby. “I had visa costs of around £2,500. We had to use my father’s retirement savings,” he says.

    Shamit Shrivastava, a post-doctoral research associate at Oxford University’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering, has had to reapply for his visa every year since he arrived in 2015. He says he is lucky because Oxford, unlike many other universities, pays the fees. But he still usually ends up spending hundreds more on the premium service each year to speed things up, because, typically, applications take two and a half months to process, meaning he could not work.
    ………………………………
    A spokesperson for the Home Office says: “We welcome international academics and recognise their contribution to the UK’s world-leading education sector. All immigration applications are considered on their individual merits and on the basis of the evidence available.”

    Yeah, sure you do.

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  4. Teve says:
  5. Kit says:

    @Teve: Re: Republicans don’t believe in democracy

    If your wife tells you that she doesn’t believe in your marriage, it sort of forces your hand, doesn’t it? Nearly half the country doesn’t like democracy. Or science. Or the truth. Or the planet. A country simply cannot be governed once this segment of the population attains a certain level of political power. That was always the knock on the very idea of democracy. The Founders grappled with it. They obviously failed. If the world ever breeds another generation that gets to think deeply before founding a country, I think that our history will mostly provide lessons on what to avoid.

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: “It’s a Republic, not a democracy!”

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  7. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’m old enough to remember when conservatives would get a Supreme Court decision they didn’t like and it was unelected tyrants in black robes overturning the precious Will of the People!

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking conservatives have principles, they don’t. They have enemies and spite. Whatever hurts their enemies is good, no matter how idiotic and short-sighted.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A Back to School advert for our times.

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  9. Moosebreath says:

    @Teve:

    An excellent op-ed. I especially agree with the conclusion:

    “The big problem with Joe Biden, still the front-runner, is that he obviously doesn’t get it. He’s made it clear on many occasions that he considers Trump an aberration and believes that he could have productive, amicable relations with Republicans once Trump is gone.

    Which raises the question: Even if Biden can win, is he too oblivious to govern effectively?”

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  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: They do too have a principle: IGMFY!

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  11. Kathy says:

    The latest minor buzz in aviation blogs is about a nascent, unorganized, movement in Europe to do away with short haul air travel. In the Netherlands, KLM has entered into a commercial deal with a rail company, and removed one daily flight from Amsterdam to Brussels. In Germany there is much talk of increasing air travel taxes, waiving the VAT (value added tax) for train fares, and banning domestic air travel entirely.

    Europe has a decent rail network, and parts concentrate various large cities in a small area. Add the times needed to check in and pass security at the airport, as well as the time required to get to the airport and from the airport to your destination, and travel by rail might be about as fast in total elapsed time in some routes.

    Add another thing. Even a longish train trip, say 10 hours, which might take far less time by air, could be preferable, if you out that time to good use, for instance by sleeping. I’d prefer leaving late in the afternoon or early evening, and sleeping through the ride, than getting up at 4:30 to catch the 7:05 flight. The question is how well can one sleep on a train. On the equivalent of a coach seat, probably not all that well.

    The whole notion is that trains use up far less energy per passenger mile than airplanes, meaning less fuel, meaning less pollution. that’s a solid argument, but only if the train costs less.

    Now, in other places it may not work so well. the US and Canada, for example, are huge, and major cities are widely apart (with exceptions). Nor is there much of a high speed rail network. In Mexico, there is a well-developed bus industry, which connects major cities rather well. A lot of the population is concentrated in the central part of the country, too. There are few flight options between these cities, including Mexico City, as most people drive or take the bus already. But there is no high speed rail for cities further away, like Guadalajara or Monterrey, never mind really far away like Tijuana or Juarez.

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  12. Kit says:

    @Kathy: The train will get you between Brussels in Amsterdam in a bit under two hours, while flying takes one hour. For most people, I think that the train is an easy choice, and perhaps that’s why KLM finds it easy to cut back. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to find airlines taking a second look at any routes that could be easily dropped in the name of lower emissions.

    that’s a solid argument, but only if the train costs less.

    It seems like it’s no argument at all: only price matters. Sort of like saying that eating a salad is a solid arguments for one’s health, provided it costs less than a McDonald’s special.

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  13. charon says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Reminding me of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes cartoon:

    Calvin is popping off, tells Hobbes he is a “man of principle” who always follows his one big principle.

    Hobbes: “So what’s your principle?”

    Calvin: “Look out for number one.”

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  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: David Frum’s famous quote,

    If conservatives become convinced that they can not win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. The will reject democracy.

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  15. CSK says:

    Per NBC, Trump has announced Robert C. O’Brien as his NatSec advisor.

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  16. 95 South says:

    @Kit: If Kit becomes convinced that he can not win democratically, he will reject democracy.

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  17. Kathy says:

    @Kit:

    It bears pointing out that Schiphol airport is connected to a train terminal, or so I understand, and that a lot of the passengers coming from Brussels connect to other, mostly KLM, flights.

    It seems like it’s no argument at all: only price matters.

    Price matters a great deal, but most for leisure travelers than business ones. The latter either expense it to corporate or can deduct it.

    But the point is the train is slower and uses less fuel per passenger, not to mention many people view it as an inferior option for travel, so it should cost less. This is more perception than fact, but few people will pay more to take longer to make a trip.

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  18. Jen says:

    @Kathy: I’m not surprised to hear that at all. Several of the low-budget air carriers in Europe have had a host of problems. We were flying back to the US from the UK not that long ago when one of the low-cost carriers suddenly cancelled thousands of flights, leaving people stranded all over the place. They apparently realized they had too much encumbered time off and demanded that employees take leave, including pilots.

    With convenient and well-established rail lines and totally inept low-cost air carriers, the move away from short-haul flights makes sense.

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  19. Kit says:

    @Kathy:

    a lot of the passengers coming from Brussels connect to other, mostly KLM, flights.

    That’s an excellent point that I hadn’t thought of. Have there been any studies on the costs of running people through hubs? I’m sure it must make financial sense, but what happens when carbon is thrown into the equation?

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  20. Kathy says:

    @Kit:

    It may be that point to point routes are more efficient, ergo less polluting. But that’s not self evident. For one thing, a point to point system requires a lot of aircraft.

    And yet, the big success in medium haul and long haul commercial aviation has been point to point planes like the 787, A350, A321 LR and XLR, even the A220 family, rather than the A380 or 747-8.

    Still, that’s not all that needs be taken into account. Part of the reason the A380 fizzled (IMO it didn’t fail), was that it’s easier to fill up a bunch of smaller jets than one big jet, because passengers value frequencies. That is, you’d rather be able to pick from a list of flights the schedule that works best for you, rather than having to take the one flight in the big jet.

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  21. Teve says:

    You know that comedian who was hired to be on SNL and then fired a few days later when it came out that he was doing all the racisms last year? Vanity Fair says he was hired in a deliberate attempt to appease conservatives. 🙂

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  22. Jen says:
  23. Sleeping Dog says:

    Wandered out to the American Conservative to get Larison’s take on the attack on the Saudi oil sites and spotted this: When Students Melt Down Over a “B” Yes, we’ve created a mental health crisis amongst our promising young adults.

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  24. CSK says:

    @Jen: I’ll say he has “personal problems.” Gross is right.

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  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Having ridden the buses around Mexico, I’d be very surprised if there was a place one couldn’t get to via *bus.* While I never found myself riding in the back of a pick up with a dozen other people I did have the pleasure of riding the chicken buses on dirt roads thru the mountains.

    **where bus is loosely defined as a vehicle which will take people from point a to point b on a semi regular schedule.

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  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @95 South: Really? That’s all you got?

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  27. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    My freude is over-schadened…
    https://www.politicalflare.com/2019/09/trump-insider-claims-melania-has-a-long-term-boyfriend-and-donald-trump-knows-about-it/
    This sort of thing will make the POTUS crazy, and so it should never be repeated or shared with anyone.

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  28. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:
  29. 95 South says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Kit rejected democracy because he can’t get what he wanted, the same as the David Frum quote.

    A country simply cannot be governed once this segment of the population attains a certain level of political power. That was always the knock on the very idea of democracy. The Founders grappled with it. They obviously failed. If the world ever breeds another generation that gets to think deeply before founding a country, I think that our history will mostly provide lessons on what to avoid.

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  30. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I hope that’s true, divorce or not. Even a pretend “alpha male” can’t keep it up when he’s a cuckold.

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  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @95 South: Ah yes, because complaining about a political party that is dedicated to the idea that governance of any kind is evil and that the rich get the vast majority of the rewards of other people’s hard work, is the same as rigging elections and denying the vote to certain people.

    Exactly the same. Nope.

    Try again.

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  32. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: It wouldn’t surprise me. I doubt if Melania and Trump have occupied the same bed since Barron was conceived. It would not surprise me if Trump were impotent.

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  33. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “@95 South: Really? That’s all you got?”

    Really? You expected more?

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  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I take it that you didn’t read down thread where Diane, Mary Jo and others noted that the décor of the room in question predates the Trumps. I get that you’re reaching for any and everything you can get to discredit the man, but replicating his tactics and casual attitude for facts only discredits you.

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  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @wr: What I expected was him to come back and make a bigger fool of himself. You tell me, did I succeed? I’m thinking yes and no.

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  36. Teve says:

    the onion

    NASA: ‘We Will Have A Mass Shooting On The Moon By 2055’

    WASHINGTON—Calling it the next great milestone in mankind’s journey into outer space, NASA officials boldly declared in a press conference Friday that a mass shooting would occur on the moon no later than 2055.

    The panel of NASA administrators and scientists said that, given the current rate of progress in research and development, the space agency was on track to place a deranged gun-toting madman on the moon by the middle of this century, with officials expressing confidence that a double-digit body count on the lunar surface would be a reality within the majority of Americans’ lifetimes.

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  37. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    Remember when The Onion wrote satire?

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  38. Teve says:
  39. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I think I like Victorian era bordellos. Just the interior design, not the human trafficking and the lack of other opportunities for women.

    Too many people are afraid of color. Too many homes are done in Builder Beige or Very Fancy Taupe.

    Whoever painted Victorian Bordellos wasn’t worried about the resale value of their bordellos, they just wanted to enjoy their bordellos. I applaud them. Except for the human trafficking and the lack of other employment opportunities for women. But the colors are great.

    Elizabeth Warren painted a ceiling purple. Bravo, Sen. Warren, bravo. Let’s see Biden or Bernie do that.

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  40. An Interested Party says:

    Kit Republicans rejected democracy (through extreme gerrymandering and making it harder for certain groups of people to vote) because he they can’t get what he they wanted…

    Happy to be of help…

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  41. grumpy realist says:

    @Kit: Add the time getting out to the airport and the amount of time you need to arrive before the flight for checking in and security checks, and yah, for short flights it can often be quicker to travel by train, when taking the entire journey into account.

    There’s a reason that the number of Tokyo-Osaka flights dropped through the floor after the Shinkansen was built–and particularly the Nozomi service was initiated.

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  42. DrDaveT says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Add the time getting out to the airport and the amount of time you need to arrive before the flight for checking in and security checks, and yah, for short flights it can often be quicker to travel by train, when taking the entire journey into account.

    On the US east coast, I never fly if I can take the train instead. No security kabuki, big comfy seat, power outlet at my seat, arrive 15 minutes ahead of departure… Even if I’m going to Boston, which is hypothetically faster to fly, the train is just so much easier.

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  43. Gustopher says:

    I’m impressed that Justin Trudeau has to distinguish between blackface and brownface because he has done both.

    That’s it, I’m ok with Trump painting himself orange. It’s weird, but I’m pretty sure it’s not racist. He just likes the Denver Broncos or something.

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  44. Kit says:

    I missed this article from The Guardian: US study finds Christians are willing to pay for prayers – but atheists will pay to avoid them

    So much are you people willing to pay me?

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  45. 95 South says:

    @An Interested Party: Democrats reject democracy through extreme gerrymandering and voter fraud because they can’t get what they want. Still not as blatant as Kit’s rejection.

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  46. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “What I expected was him to come back and make a bigger fool of himself.”

    Is that possible?

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  47. wr says:

    @Gustopher: I like that red room, as much as I despise its inhabitants. Red walls with white wordwork is a classic combination…

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  48. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @95 South:

    Democrats reject democracy through extreme gerrymandering and voter fraud because they can’t get what they want.

    Democrats reject the Republican practices of extreme gerrymandering and ELECTION FRAUD because they are anti-democracy.
    There is almost zero voter fraud.
    Republicans keep getting busted for election fraud.
    You are an imbecile.

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  49. Teve says:

    Appeals Court: No, Lynching Threats Are Not Free Speech

    SEPTEMBER 19, 2019 BY ED BRAYTON
    9 COMMENTS
    A federal appeals court has ruled against a man who sent clear lynching threats to a Muslim candidate for public office, who argued that these were not “true threats” (the legal standard applicable here) because they were covered by the First Amendment Free Speech Clause. The court upheld a district court judge that said he had to stand trial for it.

    linky

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  50. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Jim Clyburn’s wife, Dr. Emily England Clyburn, has passed.
    The two met in jail after he was arrested for campus activism.
    They were married for 58 years.
    RIP

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  51. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Gustopher:
    Actually, I liked it for the joke more than anything.
    I learned later that the room has been decorated like that since long before the Trumps desecrated the WH with their presence.

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  52. 95 South says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I thought you’d be hiding after Just nutha ignint cracker spanked you. Yo’re an idiot.

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  53. mattbernius says:

    @95 South:

    Democrats reject democracy through extreme gerrymandering and voter fraud because they can’t get what they want.

    Call, examples please. Cause, so far the biggest recent example of wide-spread confirmed Voter Fraud was perpetuated by *checks notes* Republican operatives in North Carolina. Which *also checks notes* was a state that was recently Gerrymandered by Republicans to keep them in power despite getting a lower percentage of Votes statewide. Which, *also checks notes*, is what just also happened in Michigan as well.

    But hey projection without any backing is a hell of a drug isn’t it?

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  54. Teve says:

    Trump administration says UNC, Duke programs portray Islam too positively

    The Trump administration is pressuring the University of North Carolina and Duke University to revise their joint Middle East studies program or risk federal funding.

    The Education Department wrote in an Aug. 29 letter to the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies that the program disproportionately portrays “the positive aspects of Islam.” The agency requested they amend the program by Sept. 22 or lose a grant they’ve been receiving for almost a decade, The Associated Press reported.

    if the Republicans deteriorate any further their 2024 nominee for president is going to be Rob Schneider and his running mate’s going to be Brock Turner

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  55. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve:

    The Education Department wrote in an Aug. 29 letter to the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies that the program disproportionately portrays “the positive aspects of Islam.”

    This is a totally awesome opportunity for the universities to write back saying “We double-checked, and you’re absolutely right that we have understated the problematic history and continued ethical backwardness of both Islam and Christianity. We will be revising our curricula accordingly.”

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