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Biden visits Mother Emanuel and other headlines

06/29/15 07:59AM

VP Joe Biden attends Sunday services at Emanuel AME Church. (Charleston Post and Courier)

Are black churches being targeted by arsonists? (New York Magazine)

Texas AG: state workers can deny licenses to gay couples. (Dallas Morning News)

Chris Christie unveils his presidential campaign website. (Bloomberg Politics)

John Kasich sets his announcement date. (Politico)

NY State manhunt ends after 22 days when a local State Trooper shoots fleeing prisoner. (Plattsburgh Press-Republican) 

Global markets slump as Greece closes banks and debt talks falter. (USA Today)

Whitey Bulger writes teens in a letter: 'my life was wasted.' (AP)

High schoolers' experiment lost again in 2nd failed rocket launch. (AP)

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With this antenna at Kokee Park on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, NASA makes regular VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry) measurements that are used in the time standard called UT1 (Universal Time 1).

Week in Geek: leap second edition

06/28/15 11:01AM

This Tuesday, you will get a little extra time added to your day. NASA is adding a leap second on June 30th to account for changes in the Earth's rotation that are causing it to slow down.

The length of a day is 86,400 seconds in theory, but in practice day's last slightly longer, averaging 86,400.002 seconds instead. In fact, over the past several hundred years, the length of a day has been increasing between 1.4-1.7 milliseconds per century. While that might not seem like a lot, when you add up all the additionally milliseconds over a year or more, they start to matter - especially in the era of atomic clocks.

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Former Boise Minister Bryan Fisher stands inside the Idaho Statehouse rotunda in downtown Boise, Idaho on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007.

This Week in God, 6.27.15

06/27/15 08:37AM

First up from the God Machine this week is a closer look at the religious right movement's reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on marriage equality -- which can roughly be described as this generation of the movement's worst nightmare.
To put it mildly, the religious right isn't altogether pleased. Right Wing Watch pulled together a collection of reactions yesterday from some of the movement's more notable groups and leaders, all of whom are apoplectic. But only one religious right figure compared the ruling to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor -- and then kept going.
Following the Supreme Court ruling striking down state bans on gay marriage this morning, American Family Radio's Bryan Fischer had a bit of a meltdown on Twitter, which he subsequently cobbled together into a column that he then read on his radio program this afternoon.
In the span of two minutes, he managed to compare the ruling to 9/11, slavery, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Sodom and Gomorrah.
"From a moral standpoint, 6/26 is the new 9/11," Fischer declared, "because it was on this day that five justices of the United States Supreme Court became moral jihadists. They became rainbow jihadists and they blasted the twin pillars of truth and righteousness into rubble. And they did this by imposing sodomy-based marriage on the United States through an act of judicial tyranny."
Fischer quite literally referred to June 26, 2015 as "a date which will live in infamy. On this day, the United States became Sodom and Gomorrah."
Stick it in a time capsule. Future generations won't believe it.
Also from the God Machine this week:

Friday's Mini-Report, 6.26.15

06/26/15 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* New York: "Richard Matt, one of the two killers who escaped an upstate New York prison three weeks ago, was shot and killed Friday, two senior New York state officials told NBC News. The whereabouts of the second escapee, David Sweat, were also not immediately known."
* Tunisia: "At least 37 people were killed and dozens wounded when gunmen opened fire on a beach popular with tourists in Tunisia on Friday, officials said."
* Not just Tunisia: "Terrorists launched horrific attacks across three continents Friday, killing dozens of people just days after ISIS urged supporters to unleash "a month of disaster" during the Muslim holy period of Ramadan. A man was decapitated in an apparent Islamist attack on a U.S.-owned gas factory in southeastern France, while 25 worshipers were killed and 200 wounded during Friday prayers at a Shi'ite mosque in Kuwait."
* A story to keep an eye on: "Some couples who wished to get married immediately after the Supreme Court lifted the bans on same-sex marriage in the 14 states that prohibited it Friday were met with roadblocks."
* The other big ruling today: "In the case Johnson v. United States, the Supreme Court just struck down a provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act that says that someone's past crimes count as "violent" if they involve a risk of serious injury to another person -- even if the crime didn't actually involve violence."
* Congress: "Two measures were discussed in the House chamber Thursday: one pertaining to Confederate Battle Flag imagery in the U.S. Capitol, and another banning the iconography from the South Carolina Capitol and any government property."
President Barack Obama speaks in front of the casket of Rev. Clementa Pinckney during funeral services for Pinckney in Charleston, South Carolina June 26, 2015.

President Obama warns against 'a comfortable silence'

06/26/15 04:48PM

When Barack Obama's presidency is over, I have a strong hunch people will still be talking about the eulogy he delivered in South Carolina today for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.
Because the president's remarks today were about Pinckney and other victims of last week's mass murder in Charleston, but it was also about much, much more.
It was about the Confederate battle flag at the South Carolina capitol.
"The flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride. For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation. We see that now.
"Removing the flag from this state's capital would not be an act of political correctness. It would not an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be acknowledgement that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong. The imposition of Jim Crow after the Civil War, the resistance to civil rights for all people was wrong.
"It would be one step in an honest accounting of America's history, a modest but meaningful balm for so many unhealed wounds. It would be an expression of the amazing changes that have transformed this state and this country for the better because of the work of so many people of goodwill, people of all races, striving to form a more perfect union.
"By taking down that flag, we express God's grace."
It was about the criminal justice system.
"Perhaps it softens hearts towards those lost young men, tens and tens of thousands caught up in the criminal-justice system and lead us to make sure that that system's not infected with bias -- that we embrace changes in how we train and equip our police so that the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve make us all safer and more secure."
It was about race and the economy.
Adam Gabbatt of The Guardian newspaper holds images of possible Republican candidates during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 26, 2015.

GOP candidates turn focus to marriage equality

06/26/15 03:37PM

For Democratic presidential candidates, today's Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality is unqualified great news -- Hillary Clinton and her rivals can celebrate without reservation, knowing that their party's base sees today as a breakthrough for American civil rights.
For Republicans, it's just a little more complicated. MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin had a good piece on this today.
Republican presidential hopefuls responded to the Supreme Court's historic same-sex marriage decision Friday with a mix of tepid disapproval and fiery condemnation, reflecting the party's deep unease with an issue where public opinion tilted decisively toward equality well before the law had caught up.
Consider Jeb Bush's measure tone, for example. "I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision," the Florida Republican said in a statement. "I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments."
It's not exactly Scalia-esque.
And it's easy to understand why. On the one hand, GOP presidential candidates realize that much of their party's right-wing base -- including the religious right movement, which is powerful in early nominating states like Iowa -- sees today's decision as a genuine travesty. On the other hand, the American mainstream has already embraced marriage equality, and Republicans who plan to compete nationally have to be careful about alienating a general-election audience.
It's a dynamic that leads to some caution. Literally every GOP candidate criticized the high court's decision, and nearly everyone in the field stressed "religious" liberty, which must have done well in focus groups.
But from there, two camps emerged, divided by strategies over what happens next.
President Barack Obama delivers a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House, on June 26, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Pool/Getty)

Celebrating the arc of the moral universe

06/26/15 12:41PM

It's fair to say President Obama has had a rather extraordinary week. It was literally just a week ago when Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) mocked the president as a "very, very lame duck," though few seem to be using the phrase today.
This was the week Obama's trade agenda -- one of his principal second-term goals -- took a giant step forward. This was the week Obama's health care reform law withstood a challenge at the U.S. Supreme Court, cementing his place as "one of the most consequential presidents in American history."
And this was the week Obama was able to stand in the Rose Garden of the White House and celebrate the day marriage equality came to the United States. MSNBC's David Taintor reported:
President Obama on Friday celebrated the Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage across the country, calling the historic ruling a "victory for America."
"Sometimes, there are days like this," the president said in a statement from the Rose Garden outside the White House, "when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt."
Obama, who's advanced the cause of gay rights further and faster than even optimists could have predicted, added, "Today we can say, in no uncertain terms, that we've made our union a little more perfect.... America should be very proud."
Watching this president discuss this ruling from this location served as a striking reminder about the extraordinary historical circumstances we find ourselves in.

Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 6.26.15

06/26/15 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:
* For the second time this week, a statewide poll in New Hampshire shows Donald Trump gaining traction, at least for now, in the Granite State. The new WMUR/CNN poll shows Jeb Bush leading the Republican presidential field with 16% in the first primary state, followed by Trump with 11%. No other candidate reaches double digits.
* On a related note, a WMUR/CNN poll shows Hillary Clinton with only an eight-point advantage in New Hampshire over Bernie Sanders, 43% to 35%. Literally every other recent, independent poll in the state shows Clinton with a larger lead.
* As Rachel noted on the show last night, there are multiple reports, no doubt based on intra-campaign leaks, which say New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will kick off his presidential bid on Tuesday. Asked on a radio show yesterday whether he's prepared to deny these reports, the governor replied, "I can`t deny that, because I haven`t made a decision." No one actually believes he's telling the truth.
* Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson has apparently argued that secret communists have "infiltrated our society." The secret communists are, he claims, "organized" in their effort to "bring America down."
* Carson also believes Ancient Romans got caught up in political correctness, which contributed to its demise.


About The Rachel Maddow Show

Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.

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