“I have been told by Clipper management they no longer want me to be Clipper Darrell, a name that was given to me by the media because of my unwavering support and team spirit. I am devastated!”—Darrell Bailey, a.k.a. Clipper Darrell • Stating on his website that the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, a team to which he’s been undyingly loyal (buying Clippers season tickets for a solid decade would be enough to test anybody’s faith, we’re guessing), now wants him to cease being known as “Clipper Darrell.” The team fired back a palpably angry response: “The Clippers have done absolutely nothing wrong or inappropriate as it concerns Darrell Bailey. His claims are absurd and unfounded. …The Clippers have never engaged Mr. Bailey’s services. When he has been in need, the organization has regularly provided him a seat for games. No good deed goes unpunished.” It breaks our heart to see it all unravel like this. They’re finally an exciting team, and now there’s turmoil with Clipper Darrell? A sad sign of our times. source (via • follow)
“It was a very aggressive attack on Baba Amr today. I don’t think they want to enter it anyway; they want to destroy it completely by shelling it from adjacent villages and neighborhoods.”—Mulham al-Jundi, Syrian activist • Describing the state of Baba Amr, a part of the besieged city of Homs in Syria. Homs has been the site of the most sustained, catastrophic violence in recent months, and tanks have reportedly surrounded the Baba Amr neighborhood on four sides, launching mortar fire and rockets into the fray. Communication into Baba Amr, which had been maintained for weeks, was cut off for a few hours today, conjuring fears of a ground massacre rolling through the area. Thankfully, recent reports suggest this has not yet occurred. The scene in Homs is ghastly, and looks to be getting worse every day — al-Jundi also said it’s hard to discern how many people are left alive, because anybody who moves through the streets risks being shot dead by government snipers stationed on rooftops. source (via • follow)
Woman wants priest removed after refusal of communion at mother's funeral
then Father Marcel Guarnizo was officiating at a funeral mass for Loetta Johnson. After saying only people in a “state of grace” could receive communion, he refused to allow Loetta’s daughter, Barbara, to drink from the communion chalice. The reason? She’s a lesbian, and lives with her partner — a sin, by the Catholic Church’s standards.
nowBarbara Johnson is calling for the priest’s removal. The archdiocese has said questions of whether communion ought to be rendered should be addressed privately, not by “public reprimand” like Guarnizo did. They have refused, however, to comment on his ongoing status in the priesthood, claiming it’s a personnel issue. sour.ce
Autocorrect mishap causes schools to go on lockdown
plan Over in Gainesville, Georgia, someone—unidentified in the report—accidentally sent a text message to the wrong number. The texter intended to write “gunna be at West Hall today.” Perfectly innocuous, right?
failThe phone’s overzealous autocorrect feature changed the text to “gunman be at West Hall today.” The recipient reported the text to police, and two West Hall schools were subsequently put on lockdown. source
» One question: Who uses “gunna” as shorthand for “going to?” We thought “gonna” was the standard abbreviation. But all jokes aside, we’re glad this was all just a technological snafu, and not an actual threat.
Nebraska's Bob Kerrey on changing mind: "I feel good about the decision."
Kerrey changes course towards Senate run: The former Senator had served from 1989 to 2001, before deciding he wouldn’t seek a third term. Rumors had been swirling for the last couple months as to whether he would jump back into the political fray, following the retirement of Ben Nelson, and though he initially shot down such talk he seems to have thought better of it. “It was a difficult process but I feel good about the decision. I look forward to the race,” he said. Though the seat is generally thought to be an easy pickup for the GOP this year, one would imagine Kerrey saw some positive numbers to sway his decision, reluctant as he seemed at first — this now becomes a must-watch Senate race. source
“Suffocating sanctions could lead to a grave economic situation in Iran and to a shortage of food. This would force the regime to consider whether the nuclear adventure is worthwhile, while the Persian people have nothing to eat and may rise up as was the case in Syria, Tunisia and other Arab states.”—An unnamed Israeli official • Calling for the U.S. to cripple Iran’s economy with harder sanctions, to cause food shortages for the Iranian public as a means to gain diplomatic leverage. The impetus of this thinking came earlier today, when North Korea agreed to halt production of new nuclear weapons in exchange for food aid. While respecting the existential concern Iran’s nuclear prospects pose for Israel, the fact that the U.S. would itself impose a food shortage (unlike North Korea, where state mismanagement and famine were to blame) seems like it would aim the Iranian public’s outrage outward, not inward. The Arab spring had much do with economics, Tunisia’s high unemployment, for example, but a foreign state inducing hunger and starvation, and hoping people will therefore turn against their own government? That seems highly unlikely, as well as morally dubious. source (via • follow)
U.S. scores diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea
the deal The U.S. got North Korea to agree to curb its nuclear testing and enrichment processes and allow outside investigators to monitor its main reactor, which is a fairly major breakthrough for the countries.
the perk In exchange, North Korea will get 240,000 metric tons of food aid. While the U.S. has long considered offering aid for purely humanitarian reasons, North Korea insisted that it be tied to this deal. source
» Significant, if “limited”: This result came after a set of talks last week that initially did not seem to go well, but later proved be palatable for the North Koreans. The two countries previously were close to some sort of deal before Kim Jong-il’s death, but the latest development seems to have gone over. “The United States still has profound concerns regarding North Korean behavior across a wide range of areas,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, ”but today’s announcement reflects important, if limited, progress in addressing some of these.”
“Snowe’s retirement will have many lamenting the endangered moderate and wondering how we can turn back the clock. But we can’t. About that, Snowe is right. Polarization is with us now and will be with us for the foreseeable future. The question is whether we will permit it to paralyze our political system and undermine our country or whether we will accept it and make the necessary accommodations.”—Ezra Klein • Arguing that the problem with congress isn’t partisanship, or ideological polarization, but rather that the institutions and procedures codified in our political system aren’t well-equipped to handle a polarized congress. Klein’s prime example is the filibuster, which as we’ve seen the past couple of years, is absolutely crippling when the two parties in the Senate don’t agree on anything. “Our system, as any historian will tell you, was built by men who hated parties and anticipated their absence from American politics,” Klein says. “But as the two parties have polarized, we’ve learned that a system built for consensus is not able to properly function amid constant partisan competition.” source (via • follow)
Unsurprisingly, female voters like Romney more than Santorum--at least in Michigan
1%margin by which Mitt Romney won the male vote tonight in Michigan
5% margin by which Romney won the female vote source
» Why? Well, these statements in opposition to placing female soldiers on the front lines of battle may have had something to do with it. Or maybe it’s his opposition to abortion, or his opposition to contraception. Santorum may be aware of this deficit he faces: As Molly Ball at The Atlantic notes, "Santorum began his speech by thanking his mother, his wife, and his eldest daughter at length, emphasizing their professional bona fides. He seemed to be implicitly going out of his way to assure women he took a modern view of their place in the workplace and role in society."
Whereas Michigan is usually a hope-to state for Republicans in the general election, Ohio is a must-do. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio. Thus, the challenge for the GOP candidates is to win the primary next week without turning off voters who they’ll need to carry the state in the fall.
President Obama exempts US citizens from indefinite detainment
then On the last day of 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act which, amongst other things, allowed for the indefinite detention of US citizens suspected of terrorism.
now Obama signed a policy directive today that exempts US citizens from that provision in the bill (Section 1022, if you’re keeping track). Here’s the fact sheet released by the White House. source
» Some nuance: Although the language in the bill as signed did permit for US citizens to be indefinitely detained, it did not mandate this. Obama actually said at the time that he wouldn’t implement the law such that US citizens would face this possibility, so his signing today of this directive is in line with what he’d pledged. Our take: While this development will surely please Obama’s base, we’re scratching our heads as to why the White House announced it on the day of what’s become the most important primary in the Republican nominating contest so far (Michigan). It’ll likely get completely lost in the news cycle amidst all the primary coverage, which would seem to blunt its political utility. Color us baffled.
Polls are closing and numbers are starting to come in, in Michigan and we are officially off to the races. There is a lot at stake and with rumors of low voter turn out and democrats voting against Mitt Romney, this could be anyone’s game.
“I do find it frustrating…that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.”—Sen. Olympia Snowe • Discussing why she’s not seeking re-election in 2012. Snowe, a fairly popular figure in her home state of Maine, was considered a shoo-in to win, but now the seat is more likely to go to a Democrat. She found herself in the middle of the polarization wars more than a few times, as a moderate Republican who once voted in favor of Obama’s health care bill while it was still in committee (though she voted against the final bill). We’re not saying her decision isn’t bad for her party (especially since it comes roughly two weeks before the filing deadline in Maine, putting her party in a bad spot) … but we understand why she’s dropping out. Snowe joins fellow moderates Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) in the retirement column.
UN's estimate of Syrian death toll increases with recent surge in killing
7,500killed in Syria since last March, UN says source
» “Indiscriminant bombardment by tank and rocket fire”: Those were the words of the UN’s undersecretary general for political affairs, Lynn Pascoe. The killing in Syria has reached something of a fever pitch in past months, with the bombardment of Homs in particular leading to grim headlines, and truly ghastly footage. The UN currently estimates that over 100 people per day are being killed by Bashar al-Assad’s security forces. Said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on Assad as a war criminal: “I think that based on definitions of war criminal and crimes against humanity, there would be an argument to be made that he would fit into that category.”
Newly discovered fossil sets record for largest known penguin
130 lbs.the weight of a considerably colossal, ancient penguin, as extrapolated from a recently unearthed fossil
5 feetthe portly penguin’s height, making it both the tallest and heaviest penguin known to science source
» Move over, Emperor penguin. While you may be the largest penguin left in these modern times, 27 million years ago you would have been dwarfed by science’s latest fossil discovery, the Kairuku grebneffi, found in New Zealand. It’s believed that their longer, curved beaks allowed them to easily spear fish for food. As described by Otago University’s Ewan Fordyce: “…relatively longer bills and a more slender body than in living species. The wing was probably able to flex a little more.”
Some remains of 9/11 victims ended up in landfill, Pentagon admits
review The Defense Department released a review of the mortuary practices at Dover Air Force Base today, where it had been exposed in November that remains of Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers had been incinerated and taken to a landfill.
reveal Dover did the same with some remains of 9/11 victims, from the attack on the Pentagon, and in the downed plane in Shanksville, PA. The landfill-bound remains were, the review notes, unidentified and in small portions. source
“I’m here in 1983, and I’m part of a truth squad… for the convention. And we’re having a great time. It’s a great city, as you know, there’s a reason it’s one of the great tourist cities in the country. We’re down at Union Square, and CBS is interviewing me… literally, at that moment, a six-foot-two transvestite comes up to me and hands me an invitation to an exorcism of Jerry Falwell.”—Newt Gingrich • Explaining, when pressed by San Francisco Chronicle reporters Joe Garofoli and Carla Marinucci, what precisely he means when he decries “San Francisco values.” His response, as you can see, is not one that will go over well with LGBT advocates, or people who believe a personal anecdote is shaky grounds for a broad-based political narrative. It does bear mentioning that Gingrich had some compliments for the city as, well, a city, and he also had some unexpected praise on California Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. source (via • follow)
Waiting for further confirmation, but one thing that’s interesting about this announcement is that it’s pretty rare for them to have a product launch in NYC. It’s kind of a major change for the company if that’s true.
Gabrielle Giffords weighs strong on special election for her former seat
671signatures needed for the special election for Giffords’ old seat
7,110signatures received by Giffords’ former aide, Ron Barber source
» His closest GOP competitor got a fraction of that: Barber, who was encouraged by Giffords to run for the seat, has a major leg up in the April 17 primary for Arizona’s eighth Congressional district. The special election takes place in June. However, while Barber will run uncontested for the primary this time around, Democrats may take him on in the general election in November. A variety of Republicans are running for the seat, which is in a swing district.
Ohio school shooting: Second person dies; gunman posted dark messages
story A second person, 17-year-old Russell King Jr., died late last night of injuries sustained during Monday’s shooting; he was pronounced brain dead. Another person is reportedly in critical condition from the shooting, and two others are hospitalized.
backgroundT.J. Lane, the gunman in the shooting, has been identified by the family’s lawyer. Lane posted a Facebook note back in December which ended: “Wriggle and writhe. Feel smaller beneath my might. Seizure in the Pestilence that is my scythe. Die, all of you.” source
The group’s reputation among foreign policy writers, analysts, and practitioners is poor; they are considered a punchline more often than a source of valuable information or insight. As a former recipient of their “INTEL REPORTS” (I assume someone at Stratfor signed me up for a trial subscription, which appeared in my inbox unsolicited), what I found was typically some combination of publicly available information and bland “analysis” that had already appeared in the previous day’s New York Times. A friend who works in intelligence once joked that Stratfor is just The Economist a week later and several hundred times more expensive. As of 2001, a Stratfor subscription could cost up to $40,000 per year.
However, it’s worth noting that Fisher’s thesis, which seems to be based on hearsay and conjecture alone rather than hard evidence, is getting debated heavily in the comments, with some suggesting he’s naïve. “The entire vibe of your piece is so snarky and so obviously full of anti-Wikileaks sentiment that it’s hard to know whether to take you seriously or not,” one commenter writes.
“Israeli officials said that if they eventually decide a strike is necessary, they would keep the Americans in the dark to decrease the likelihood that the U.S. would be held responsible for failing to stop Israel’s potential attack. The U.S. has been working with the Israelis for months to persuade them that an attack would be only a temporary setback to Iran’s nuclear program.”—An AP article suggesting that Israel will keep the U.S. out of the loop if it tries attacking Iran. Well, until now, that is. Good work uncovering this one, Associated Press. Now they just lost deniability. (via @BreakingNews)