Tuesday Morning Open Thread

Underworld boss shot outside Bulgarian courthouse

A convicted underworld boss was shot and seriously wounded in broad daylight outside a courthouse in Bulgaria's capital on Tuesday, sending panicked people on a busy downtown street scrambling for cover.

The shooter or shooters opened fire at around 9:30 a.m., probably from an apartment building across the street from the Sofia Courthouse, police said. Minutes after the shooting, a fire broke out at the top floor of the building, suggesting that the assailant or assailants may have set a fire to hide their tracks.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands to abdicate for son

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has announced she is abdicating in favour of her son, Prince Willem-Alexander.

In a pre-recorded address broadcast on TV, she said she would formally stand down on 30 April.

The queen, who is approaching her 75th birthday, said she had been thinking about this moment for several years and that now was "the moment to lay down my crown".

French and Malian troops retake Timbuktu

Malian soldiers entered the city of Timbuktu on Monday after al Qaeda-linked militants fled into the desert having set ablaze a library that held thousands of ancient manuscripts ablaze.

French Col. Thierry Burkhard, the chief military spokesman in Paris, said that there had been no combat with the Islamists who have ruled Timbuktu for nearly 10 months. Reuters reports the Malian troops supported by the French military were able to retake control of the town without a shot being fired.

Burkhard said French paratroopers landed north of the city as ground forces headed up from the south.

I'm not a New Jersey resident, but this is a fascinating read.

Exit everyman: How the Jersey Democratic bosses destroyed Dick Codey and unleashed Chris Christie

They won’t say it publicly, but there is fear, genuine fear, among New Jersey Democrats that this year’s gubernatorial election will produce a Republican landslide not seen since the Tom Kean era, threatening Democratic control of the legislature and key county offices.

With the election just over nine months away, Governor Chris Christie’s approval rating sits at 74 percent, his post-Sandy bounce so far impervious to political gravity. His willingness to break loudly and publicly with a national Republican Party that remains poisonously unpopular in blue-state Jersey helps explain this, and Christie’s reelection position has also been fortified by the decisions of the state’s two most popular Democrats to sit out the 2013 race.

Ohio judge exonerates former police captain of ex-wife's 1997 murder, orders him released

A former Ohio police captain who has spent nearly 15 years in prison in his ex-wife's killing was exonerated Tuesday by a judge who said that new DNA test results proved his innocence and that no reasonable jury would have found him guilty if that evidence had been available at trial.

Doug Prade should be set free because the new DNA results are "clear and convincing," said Summit County Court of Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter in Akron.

Hunter could have ordered a new trial for the 66-year-old Prade, or found that the DNA results weren't strong enough and allowed his conviction and sentence of life in prison to stand.

Defining a secure border will be crucial for immigration plan

The fate of 11 million people could hinge on the interpretation of border security.

An immigration-reform blueprint by a bipartisan group of senators includes a path to U.S. citizenship for those who are in the country illegally. But the blueprint, released Monday, specifies that the federal government must first certify that the U.S.-Mexico border is secure.

Immigrant rights groups fear that millions of people will be in limbo until the security threshold appeases those dissatisfied with the border's status.

Skies Full of Life: Microbes May Thrive in the High Atmosphere

Each year, hundreds of millions of metric tons of dust, water, and humanmade pollutants make their way into the atmosphere, often traveling between continents on jet streams. Now a new study confirms that some microbes make the trip with them, seeding the skies with billions of bacteria and other organisms—and potentially affecting the weather. What’s more, some of these high-flying organisms may actually be able to feed while traveling through the clouds, forming an active ecosystem high above the surface of the Earth.

The discovery came about when a team of scientists based at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta hitched a ride on nine NASA airplane flights aimed at studying hurricanes. Previous studies carried out at the tops of mountains hinted that researchers were likely to find microorganisms at high altitudes, but no one had ever attempted to catalog the microscopic life floating above the oceans—let alone during raging tropical storms. After all, it isn’t easy to take air samples while your plane is flying through a hurricane.

Late Lunch May Mean Less Weight Loss

People who like to eat lunch late in the afternoon may have more trouble shedding pounds than those who dine earlier, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that of 420 people in a weight-loss program, the late-lunch crowd lost about 25 percent less weight than those who usually lunched before 3 p.m.

The findings, reported Jan. 29 in the International Journal of Obesity, come with caveats. The researchers cannot be sure that a late lunch itself thwarts people's diets. And the study participants were from Spain, where lunch is the biggest meal of the day.

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Tonight's Chronic Tonic at VOTS- So Tired~

triv33's picture

Insomnia, I has it.

Doug Prade! I've seen at least three different true crime shows featuring his story and every damn one has painted that man as guilty, guilty, guilty! I always thought that bite mark evidence was bullshit! They showed the man's false teeth being yanked clean out of his mouth under the slighted bit of force in court, yet--GUILTY. I watch a lot of these shows and sat through a lot of interviews with prosecutors. I'm pretty convinced that no matter what they say, we don't go for justice in this country, we go for convictions.

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Good morning.

Glinda's picture

Wow, oh, wow.  That New Jersey story is incredible.  I don't think I would have seen it had you not linked it here.  THANK you.

And it's full of other links with stories I hadn't read.

I knew that there are two corrupt Democratic bosses in NJ, but this is just devastating. 

I think New Jersey should split into two states:  South Jersey and North Jersey.  It will never happen, but I wish it could.

 

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It really is a great read.

type1error's picture

The depiction of the behind-the-scenes political activity is incredibly depressing. More evidence that we truly live in a faux democracy. At the same time, knowing that money can't always buy political victory is heartening.

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"Life" emerges almost everywhere

geomoo's picture

in spectacular diversity.  This should be obvious by now, yet scientists continue to be surprised.

Here are a couple of general remarks about the film festival.  I decided to skip the early morning one because I think I'll be going to a ten pm movie tonight.

Social media and all forms of screen watching are in evidence in, really, almost every film.  There is a stunning difference between any previous years.  Even the documentary about a Chinese family living substitence thousands of miles from Beijing--they use a cell phone to film their toddler and are watching it.  A paraguayan film in a way centers around cell phones and their video function.  There are at least 3 films specifically addressing the alienation caused by our new method of interacting.  And then there is merely the normal presence of devices.  The opening night film, Disconnect, did something I have never seen before--some of the action switches over to chat mode, with the dialog being carried forward--we watch the people chatting, and read emotion in their faces.  This is a big part of the film, and very well done, capturing what it is to text and chat very realistically.  Based on a few pictures, people in third world nations are thrilled to see themselves in video--it's like being on tv.  There is a Brittany Spears poster in the background even in rural China.  In a Chinese picture there is a poster of a beautiful woman with the text "Like me?"  It seems the chinese government likes the hypnotic populace control it sees in the west and is consciously promoting the nice kind of fascism to go along with the new capitalism.  It makes me think that pretty soon it won't be just first world countries who believe that for something to be real, it has to be on tv.

The other thing that keeps emerging in film after film is the notion of indigenous people being driven off their land.  In this case, indigenous can mean Arab families that have lived in Akka for generations.  While government policy plays an enormous role in this, policy such as putting nomads in horrible concrete housing or passing laws to limit ownership for Palestinians, there are worldwide pressures as well, many relating to the global concentration of capital and income.  Degradation of the environment is yet another aspect of this issue, often going hand in hand or even being causal.  In short, the many faces of exploitation.  This theme seems omnipresent.  By contrast, the exquisite film about wine growing in Burgundy depicts the beautiful, complex cultures that thrive when a people own the same land for generations--the passion is present to work the land, tradition is carried forward, and the result is high civilization.  The Palestinians in Akka used to have a thriving fishing culture--today the culture is in sad decline, with the rise of gangs and drugs, the alienation of the young people, issues familiar to people around the world.  Without hope for a future, without a feeling of connection and personal stake in community, culture degenerates to mutual exploitation.

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A good Pete Seeger story

geomoo's picture

This comes from the Greenwich Village film.  Woody went into a diner somewhere in the midwest and heart God Bless America on the juke box.  He sat down and wrote This Land is Your Land on a napkin.  Also, during WWII, Woody had on his guitar the famous words, "This machine kills fascists."  Someone asked him, perhaps Seeger himself, why he still had those words after WWII.  Guthrie said

Fascism comes around again every time the wealthy get the generals to do what they want.

Another Pete Seeger corrective story.  I don't know how many have heard the story that when Dylan plugged in the first time at a folk festival that Seeger was so disgusted that he tried to chop the electric cable.  Seeger tells the truth, though.  He says the words to Maggie's Farm, the song being played, are so great but you couldn't hear them because they were coming through a bad PA system and the music was cranked up too high.  He tried to get the sound guy to adjust the levels so the words would be intelligible.

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Kangaroo Reasoning

geomoo's picture

Jeez, Ina, just glancing at it, it looks like yet another fear and paranoia drama to feed the notion that the US is always in mortal danger and needs to remain on high alert indefinitely.  This is a completely uneducated reaction, but one based on a passing knowledge of the crap my wife watches on television.

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