- Today's comic by is Ruben Bolling Paul Ryan tours the 'inner city':
- Initial unemployment claims up slightly: For the week ending March 15, seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment compensation was 320,000, up 5,000 from the previous week's number, according to the Department of Labor. The four-week running average, which flattens volatility in the weekly numbers, was 327,000, down 3,500 from the previous week's average. For the comparable week of 2013, initial compensation claims were 341,000 and the running average 340,750. For the week ending March 1, the total number of people claiming compensation was 3,350,028, down 100,729 from the previous week. For the comparable week in 2013, there were 5,369,007 persons claiming benefits. But that entire decrease is due to the long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more) having lost access to compensation thanks to Republican intransigence over renewing the federal emergency unemployment compensation program initiated during the Great Recession in June 2008.
- Texas gets execution drugs from secret source. The state that kills more inmates than any other has obtained a fresh batch of drugs that it uses for executions. So there will be no delay carrying out the barbaric practice when Texas runs out of its old supply of sodium pentobarbital at the end of March. But the officials won't tell where they got the new drugs to, they say, protect the safety of the supplier.
The decision to keep details about the drugs and their source secret puts the agency at odds with past rulings of the state attorney general’s office, which has said the state’s open records law requires the agency to disclose specifics about the drugs it uses to carry out lethal injections.
- Robert S. Strauss dead at 95:
Robert S. Strauss, a smooth-talking Texas lawyer and businessman who became a consummate political insider and played a key role in reviving the Democratic Party’s fortunes after its landslide loss to Republicans in the 1972 election, died March 19 in Washington. He was 95.
- Thanks to vaccination refusers, whooping cough and measles are making a comeback:
In the 1930s, there were hundreds of thousands of cases of pertussis [whooping cough] in the US yearly. After the vaccine got into widespread use in the 1950s the cases dropped dramatically. There were still cases occurring, though. Primarily in people who refused vaccinations for themselves and for their children for religious reasons. Outbreaks tended to occur in these populations.
However as anti-vaccination advocates convinced more people to stop vaccinating in recent year, the number of cases of whooping cough has begun to climb again. (One of America’s most high-profile anti-vaccinate advocates is Jenny McCarthy of ABC’s “The View.”) There have been recent outbreaks in various areas of the country. Recently, there have been upwards of 50,000 cases of whooping cough per year in the US. In 2012 there were 20 deaths caused by pertussis.
- DSCC outraised NRSC in February: Both political parties announced ample fund-raising hauls for Senate races, they announced Thursday, but the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee outraised its Republican counterpart. The DSCC raised $6.8 million, compared to the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s $5.47 million.
- Sick of social media?
The inevitable backlash has, at last, arrived: It’s called Cloak, and it’s an “antisocial network” that uses social check-ins and other geo-location information to help you avoid people you’d, well, rather not see.
- But how did "chicken from hell" taste?
Scientists have discovered a bizarre, bird-like dinosaur, named Anzu wyliei, that provides paleontologists with their first good look at a dinosaur group that has been shrouded in mystery for almost a century. Anzu was described from three specimens that collectively preserve almost the entire skeleton, giving scientists a remarkable opportunity to study the anatomy and evolutionary relationships of Caenagnathidae -- the long-mysterious group of theropod dinosaurs to which Anzu belongs. [...]
At roughly 11 feet long and five feet tall at the hip, Anzu would have resembled a gigantic flightless bird, more than a 'typical' theropod dinosaur such as T. rex. Its jaws were tipped with a toothless beak, and its head sported a tall, rounded crest similar to that of a cassowary (a large ground bird native to Australia and New Guinea). The neck and hind legs were long and slender, also comparable to a cassowary or ostrich. Although the Anzu specimens preserve only bones, close relatives of this dinosaur have been found with fossilized feathers, strongly suggesting that the new creature was feathered too. The resemblance to birds ends there, however: the forelimbs of Anzu were tipped with large, sharp claws, and the tail was long and robust. Says Dr. Lamanna, "We jokingly call this thing the 'Chicken from Hell,' and I think that's pretty appropriate. So we named it after Anzu, a bird-like demon in ancient mythology."
- Founder of Westboro Baptist Church dead at 84: Fred Phelps Sr., the bigot known for leading his flock in anti-gay protests at military and other funerals, has departed what he considered a sordid world of depravity and vice. He died before midnight Wednesday, according to church spokesman Steve Drain. Anyone hoping to protest his funeral is probably out of luck. His daughter, Margie, tweeted in February: "We don't worship the dead in this church, so there'd be no public memorial or funeral to picket if any member died."
- On today's Kagro in the Morning show: bracket chat with Greg Dworkin & Armando, both of whom make sure to relate things back to politics and commentary. Early reviews of the new 538; CNN spots a new trend in March Man-ness; tech giants knew about NSA's data collection.
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Bill in Portland Maine, eeff, BlackSheep1, navajo, Eyesbright, Steven Payne, mungley, Mother Mags, dclawyer06, JeffW, LinSea, FarWestGirl, ratcityreprobate, Azazello, Eric Nelson, aresea
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