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E.g., 6/4/2015
Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., makes his way a news conference at the Senate swamp to speak about his agenda for the country, April 30, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty)

Sanders sees surprisingly strong start

05/04/15 08:40AM

As easy as it may be to see Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) presidential campaign as a quixotic exercise, launched by a candidate who doesn't really expect to hold national office, Alex Seitz-Wald reported on the Vermont independent's strong start as a White House hopeful.
Sen. Bernie Sanders raised more than $1.5 million in the 24-hours since he announced his presidential run, his campaign announced Friday.
 
It's a strong performance for a candidate many pundits have dismissed as fringe, outpacing Republican candidates who have recently announced.
In a statement, Tad Devine, a Sanders adviser who worked as a top aide to Al Gore and John Kerry, described the $1.5 million first-day haul as "a remarkable start for Bernie's campaign."
 
While one certainly expects a candidate's aides to say things like this about their own campaign, Devine's boast is rooted in fact. Indeed, there are two striking details about Sanders' early fundraising success.
In this Friday, March 15, 2013 photo, Steven Fulop talks to The Associated Press at his campaign headquarters in Jersey City, N.J.

The other mayor who faced retribution from Team Christie

05/04/15 08:00AM

Many of the key details surrounding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) bridge scandal came into sharper focus on Friday. As part of a plea agreement, David Wildstein, a former member of Christie's team, explained that he and two other top aides to the governor conspired to deliberately cripple a New Jersey for several days as part of a retribution scheme -- the local mayor didn't endorse Christie's re-election, so the governor's aides punished the community.
 
The top members of the governor's administration picked the time to inflict the most severe damage -- the first day of school -- then coordinated a cover-up of their alleged crimes. Two prominent former members of Christie's team are now facing a nine-count criminal indictment, with an apparent trial on the way.
 
But the Jersey Journal flagged an interesting detail that was also revealed, though largely overlooked, on Friday
Buried in the 30-page federal indictment of two key figures in the Bridgegate scandal is additional confirmation that Gov. Christie Christie's office had it in for Mayor Steve Fulop.
 
There was a "coordinated and deliberate refusal by the conspirators to communicate with, meet or respond" to Fulop after he became mayor in July 2013, according to the nine-count indictment of Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's ex-chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, formerly Christie's top appointee at the Port Authority.
I can appreciate the fact that it's tough to keep track of all of the various scandals surrounding the Republican governor's office, but these new details about the governor's office punishing the mayor of Jersey City reinforce an alarming pattern of abuse from Team Christie.
 
Let's back up to refresh some memories about the nature of the Jersey City controversy.

Gunmen attack in Texas and other headlines

05/04/15 07:52AM

Police kill 2 men who opened fire outside Muhammad art show in Texas. (Dallas Morning News)

Curfew lifted in Baltimore, National Guard leaves. (Baltimore Sun)

GOP field grows: Fiorina, Carson to launch presidential bids. (AP)

Carson actually announced last night. (WJLA)

Ex-Christie allies to make court appearance in bridge case. (AP)

Ted Cruz says he has asked the Pentagon for answers on Jade Helm 15. (Bloomberg Politics)

101-year-old man rescued in Nepal a week after the earthquake. (AFP)

Astronaut (wearing a Starfleet uniform!) brews first cup of espresso in space. (@NASA)

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The colors of the solar system's innermost planet are enhanced in this tantalizing view, based on global image data from the Mercury-orbiting MESSENGER spacecraft.

Week in Geek: MESSENGER end of message edition

05/03/15 01:05PM

This past Thursday, NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft completed it mission at Mercury and impacted the surface around 3:30pm EDT. MESSENGER was originally launched in 2004, arriving at Mercury in 2011 after taking a winding path through the inner Solar System. The spacecraft achieved its primary science objectives in March of 2012, but its mission was subsequently extended twice as the spacecraft remained functional and scientists couldn't help but want to know more about the closest rock to the Sun.

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Pope Francis (R) and US President Barack Obama laugh as they exchange gifts during a private audience on March 27, 2014 at the Vatican.

This Week in God, 5.2.15

05/02/15 08:33AM

First up from the God Machine this week is an unexpected voice in the pay-equity debate, where proponents are always glad to pick up high-profile allies, though few expected Pope Francis to endorse the principle with fervor.
Pope Francis on Wednesday made an impassioned plea for an end to the salary gap between men and women, calling it "a scandal" that Christians should decisively reject.
 
"Why is it taken for granted that women must earn less than men? No! They have the same rights. The discrepancy is a pure scandal," he told tens of thousands of people at his general audience in St. Peter's Square.
 
Raising his voice for emphasis as he made some of his most forceful remarks on the subject to date, he said Christians should "decisively support the right to equal pay for equal work."
Francis added that Christians should "become more demanding" for that "radical equality."
 
Note, in the U.S. political debate over pay equity, the argument is less about the outcome and more about the means to produce that outcome. In Congress, for example, Republican lawmakers publicly insist they're strongly support equal pay for equal work -- they just oppose legislative remedies to help guarantee equitable results. To this extent, the pope's declaration is an important contribution to the debate, but its impact is limited -- it's not an endorsement of a specific proposal.
 
That said, for President Obama and congressional Democrats, the pope's endorsement of the underlying principle is welcome. Indeed, it's the latest issue on which Francis is breaking with American conservatives, following the pope's very public -- and quite progressive -- remarks of late on the climate crisis, Iran nuclear talks, and support for a new U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba.
 
The Hill reported earlier this year that the pope "is increasingly driving a wedge between conservatives and the Catholic Church." His spirited opposition to the income gap between men and women may very well drive that wedge even deeper.
 
With Francis headed for the United States in the fall, including a speech to a joint session of Congress at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), it's a dynamic worth watching.
 
Also from the God Machine this week:
Elijah Cummings: 'I am proud of Baltimore'

Elijah Cummings: 'I am proud of Baltimore'

05/01/15 09:36PM

Congressman Elijah Cummings talks about what role Congress can play in bringing change to improve the lives of people in Baltimore, mentioning specifically the damaging effects of austerity measures enacted after the 2008 economic crash. watch

Friday's Mini-Report, 5.1.15

05/01/15 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Baltimore: "Hundreds of people spilled into the streets of a riot-torn neighborhood in Baltimore on Friday after the city's chief prosecutor announced criminal charges against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray."
 
* The former Chris Christie aide who wrote the "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" email now wants everyone to know how innocent she is.
 
* The death toll in Nepal has reportedly surpassed 6,000.
 
* Nigeria: "Nigeria's military on Thursday vowed to free more hostages from Boko Haram after nearly 500 were released from atrocious conditions this week in the group's Sambisa Forest stronghold."
 
* This may be a very big deal: "[Tesla Motors] announced that it is offering a home battery product, which people can use to store energy from their solar panels or to backstop their homes against blackouts, and also larger scale versions that could perform similar roles for companies or even parts of the grid."
 
* A start: "Instances of sexual assault among U.S. service members have fallen over the past year, a new report suggested on Friday, but Pentagon officials said more work remains to be done on preventing retaliation against those who report abuse."
 
* Important safety rules: "The Obama administration imposed tougher safety regulations Friday for trains carrying crude oil, responding to growing alarm about a series of fiery derailments that killed dozens of people in a small Canadian town and have rattled U.S. communities from North Dakota to Alabama to Virginia."
 
* $10.10 is so last year: "Top Democrats laid down their minimum-wage marker on Capitol Hill on Thursday, setting up their party's middle-class-focused economic message heading into the 2016 elections campaigns. Their pitch: '$12 by '20' -- a $12 per hour federal minimum wage by 2020, which they say will give a pay raise to nearly 38 million Americans."

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