Latest StoriesRSS

select from:

E.g., 6/30/2016
E.g., 6/30/2016
A Memorial Day Ceremony in Washington.

Memorial Day 2016

05/30/16 07:05AM

Because it's Memorial Day, MaddowBlog will likely be pretty quiet today, but we'll be back to normal tomorrow. I'll be around if something important breaks, but expect light-to-non-existent posting for the next 24 hours or so.
 
In the meantime, President Obama's weekly address released Saturday morning was devoted to remembering fallen heroes, and given the holiday, it's a message worth keeping in mind today:
Hubble Space Telescope photo of Mars taken when the planet was 50 million miles from Earth on May 12, 2016.

Week in Geek - Planet fly-by edition

05/29/16 12:10PM

Tonight Mars makes its closest approach to Earth, or rather Earth makes its closest approach to Mars.

Technically Earth is on the inside lane of the Solar System racetrack so we orbit the Sun faster than Mars does - over 50% faster. As a result, Earth and Mars come closest in their respective orbits roughly once every two years (26 months to be exact). However, give their slightly different elliptical orbits and inclinations, not every close approach is equal. Distances between the two planets at this time can vary by over 30 million miles. You may recall the Mars hype from 2003 when the planet was the closest its been in the last 60,000 years. This won't be that close, but it is most definitely still worth checking out.

Tonight Earth will come within 46.8 million miles of the red planet which means if the skies are clear where you are, you are in for a treat! Mars will be at it's highest point in the sky at roughly 35 degrees around midnight in the southern sky. As a bonus, you'll get a glimpse of Saturn just off to the left.

What I love most about seeing Mars is that you can really see how red it is (even from my apartment in New York City). If you have a pair of binoculars or access to telescope, you'll even be able to distinguish some of the more prominent surface features, at the very least its polar caps. Should the skies not cooperate where you are, Mars will be hanging around for the rest of the summer. And it'll only be 26 more months till it happens again.

Here's some more geek from the week:

read more

Georgia Republican U.S. Congressman Rick Allen, cheers with wife Bettie at a campaign event for Georgia Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Augusta, Ga.

This Week in God, 5.28.16

05/28/16 08:14AM

First up from the God Machine this week is a highly unusual inter-faith squabble among House Republicans, many of whom aren't accustomed to being subjected to Biblical lectures from their own congressional colleagues. Roll Call reported on Thursday:
House Republicans at a conference meeting heard a Bible verse that calls for death for homosexuals shortly before the chamber voted Thursday morning to reject a spending bill that included an amendment barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. [...]
 
Georgia Rep. Rick W. Allen led the opening prayer by reading from Romans 1:18-32, and Revelation 22:18-19.... Gay rights advocates called on top Republicans to condemn the "vile and dangerous remarks" and censure Allen.
There's apparently some question about the details. We know that Rep. Rick Allen (R-Ga.), a relatively low-profile House freshman, delivered the prayer to his Republican colleagues on Thursday morning, behind closed doors, shortly before House members were scheduled to vote on a spending bill that included an anti-discrimination provision social conservatives don't like. We also know that the Republican read Scriptural verses related to punishing humanity's sins, including homosexuality.
 
It's less clear what, exactly, Allen intended with his opening prayer, and whether it was related to the morning's legislative business.
 
Either way, some House Republicans weren't pleased with Allen's remarks and walked out of the caucus meeting in protest. One told Politico, "A good number of members were furious."
 
Another GOP lawmaker told The Hill, in reference to Allen's prayer, "It was f---ing ridiculous."
 
Remember, 43 House Republicans voted for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s (D-N.Y.) anti-discrimination measure, and it stands to reason many of them weren't interested in a lesson on Biblical morality from their freshman colleague.
 
As for Maloney, the New York Democrat who's championed the anti-discrimination policy, the congressman heard about Allen's prayer and found it telling. "To suggest that protecting people from being fired because of who they are means eternal damnation, then I think they are starting to show their true colors," Maloney told Roll Call.
 
"I think we are living in a new world of Donald Trump and a Republican Party that is driving itself further and further away from common sense and further toward a radical approach to government," he added.
 
Also from the God Machine this week:

Friday's Mini-Report, 5.27.16

05/27/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* ISIS: "A U.S. airstrike has killed a local leader of the terror group ISIS in Fallujah, Iraq, a spokesman for an American-led coalition fighting the group said. U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren said the strike Wednesday on ISIS' headquarters in Fallujah killed local commander Maer a-Bilawi."
 
* Donald Trump announced this afternoon "that he won't debate Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders after all."
 
* Japan: "Barack Obama called for a world without nuclear weapons on Friday as he became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site of the Hiroshima atomic bombing.... A helicopter and motorcade brought Obama to the Hiroshima Peace Park Memorial, where he spent a short time in the site's museum and then solemnly placed a wreath at the arched monument."
 
* This seems like a story worth following closely: "For the first time, researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort, an alarming development that the top U.S. public health official says could mean 'the end of the road' for antibiotics."
 
* This investigation led to one resignation: "More than 40 Secret Service employees have been disciplined for improperly accessing sensitive private information about a prominent congressional critic last year, an 'appalled' Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Thursday."
 
* The effects of the Zika virus: "More than 100 prominent physicians, bioethicists and scientists from around the world posted a letter Friday urging WHO Director-General Margaret Chan to exert pressure on Olympic authorities to move the Olympics from Rio de Janeiro or delay the games because of public health concerns over the Zika virus."
 
* Gun access is part of the difference: "There was a time when it looked as if Chicago would follow New York and Los Angeles into a kind of sustained peace. Then progress stalled in 2004, and the city has been through some harrowing years leading up to another alarming spike in homicides this year."
 
* The U.S. economy "is picking up speed after a slow start to the year, with resilient consumer spending and a buoyant housing market just about making up for a falloff in investment by cautious companies. But the overall gains are still likely to fall short of what many experts -- not to mention ordinary workers -- would hope to see as the recovery nears the end of its seventh year."
One World Trade Center stands the Lower Manhattan skyline at dusk in this aerial photograph taken above New York, June 19, 2015. (Photo by Craig Warga/Bloomberg/Getty)

New York Democrat seeks post-9/11 refund from Donald Trump

05/27/16 03:54PM

Donald Trump obviously has no record in elected office or the public sector, so to evaluate his preparedness for the White House, it's necessary to scrutinize the Republican's business record. And while Trump has had plenty of lucrative successes, some of the details of his private-sector background are far less flattering.
 
The New York Daily News reported last week, for example, on a post-9/11 program, designed to help small businesses around Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks. According to the article, the state "didn't enforce federal guidelines on what defines a small business" at the time, and Donald Trump took advantage, receiving $150,000 in taxpayer money for "swanky property" he owned on Wall Street.
 
The Daily News added that the money was supposed to help "mom and pop shops make it through an incredibly difficult stretch," and yet, Trump, a self-professed billionaire, sought and received a slice of the pie.
 
Today, the New York Times reports that Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), whose district includes Ground Zero and Lower Manhattan, wrote an open letter to Trump, asking for a refund.
"When do you plan on returning the taxpayer money that was designated to ease the suffering of our city's small-business owners?" Mr. Nadler wrote in the letter, a copy of which his office provided to The New York Times. [...]
 
"It's been reported that on your grant application, you claimed 40 Wall Street L.L.C. -- which employed 28 people and had $26.8 million in annual revenues at the time -- as a 'small business,'" Mr. Nadler wrote. "Despite the federal definition of a small business as having less than $6 million in revenue, you accepted a $150,000 payout."
 
He added, "In grabbing that money with both fists, you took it out of the pockets of small-business owners in New York who were truly hurting, and prevented them from taking full advantage of the relief so generously offered by their fellow citizens."
The Democratic lawmaker went on to urge Trump to "return the funds you received or donate them to a charitable organization dedicated to providing legitimate support for the victims of 9/11."
 
Nadler concluded, "Whatever the size of your business, we need no further proof that you are a small man."
 
Ouch.

Pages