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Voting booths await voters in Red Oak, Iowa, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, ahead of the Iowa primary elections.

As the debate season begins, the latest polls show a dead heat

09/26/16 10:00AM

Democrats were probably feeling a sigh of relief last week when three major national polls were released over the course of three days, each of which showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by six points, even with third-party candidates in the mix. As of this morning, however, that sense of relief has all but disappeared.

Three national polls have been released over the last 24 hours, and each show Clinton's lead evaporating. Let's start with the Washington Post/ABC News poll, released yesterday morning.

Four-way race: Clinton 46%, Trump 44%
Head-to-head match-up: Clinton 49%, Trump 47%

This was soon followed by the new Bloomberg Politics poll:

Four-way race: Trump 43%, Clinton 41%
Head-to-head match-up: Clinton 46%, Trump 46%

And the new Quinnipiac poll:

Four-way race: Clinton 44%, Trump 43%
Head-to-head match-up: Clinton 47%, Trump 46%

On the day of the first debate, in other words, the presidential race is effectively a dead heat. For all the easy assumptions -- so many have argued, "The United States just isn't the kind of country that would elect a racist television personality to be president" -- there's no denying the unavoidable fact that Donald J. Trump has a decent chance of winning the 2016 election.
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Nordaby and Demidio, of Calvi Electric, remove the letter 'A' from the signage of Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Donald Trump has a new casino problem

09/26/16 09:26AM

A year ago, at the second debate for the Republican presidential candidates, Jeb Bush took aim at Donald Trump's history of corruption -- based on personal experience. The former Florida governor noted that Trump not only gave Bush money, but he also asked for something in return: "[Trump] wanted casino gambling in Florida."

Trump immediately interrupted, "I didn't," to which Bush responded, "Yes you did." The back and forth continued for a while, with Trump insisting that the claim is "totally false," and adding, "I promise if I wanted [casino gambling in Florida], I would have gotten it."

Even at the time, it was pretty obvious Trump was lying, but last week, Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald took this a step further, highlighting a "previously undisclosed deposition of the Republican nominee testifying under oath."
The deposition was part of a lawsuit he'd filed against Richard Fields, whom Trump had hired to manage the expansion of his casino business into Florida. In the suit, Trump claimed that Fields had quit and taken all of the information he obtained while working for Trump to another company. Under oath, Trump said he did want to get into casino gambling in Florida but didn't because he had been cheated by Fields.
The report included a transcript of Trump describing his efforts to bring casino gambling to Florida, including hosting what Trump described as then-candidate Jeb Bush's "most successful fundraiser."

When the lawyer asked, "You knew that Governor Bush, Jeb Bush at that time, was opposed to expansion of gaming in Florida, didn't you?" Trump replied, "I thought that he could be convinced otherwise."
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Podiums a presdential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum on Jan. 19, 2012 in Charleston, S.C.

Debate commission director balks at real-time fact checking

09/26/16 08:40AM

Heading into the first presidential debate tonight, Donald Trump and his campaign team have made it quite clear they don't want moderator Lester Holt to do any fact checking during the event. That's not exactly surprising: the Republican nominee has an unfortunate habit of lying, and it'd be embarrassing for Trump if his falsehoods were exposed in real time.

But outside of Republican circles, many are concerned that if moderators overlook obvious whoppers, and allow the debates to turn into literal "he said, she said" disputes, the public won't actually learn anything.

Janet Brown, the Commission on Presidential Debates' executive director, talked to CNN's Brian Stelter yesterday about the broader dispute, and she seemed to come down firmly on Trump's side.
STELTER: What about the issue of fact checking that has been talked about so much in the past few weeks? Does the commission want Lester Holt to fact check?

BROWN: The commission asks independent, smart journalists to be the moderators and we let them decide how they're going to do this. But I have to say, in our history, the moderators have found it appropriate to allow the candidates to be the ones that talk about the accuracy or the fairness of what the other candidate or candidates might have said.

I think, personally, if you are starting to get into the fact-check, I'm not sure what is the big fact, and what is a little fact? And if you and I [have] information, does your source about the unemployment rate agree with my source?
I'm not entirely clear what Brown meant when she drew a distinction between "big" and "little" facts, but it's her comment about the unemployment rate that seemed especially problematic.
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A child walks past a graffiti depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on the walls of a bar in the old town in Vilnius, Lithuania, May 14, 2016. (Photo by Mindaugas Kulbis/AP)

Trump campaign faces new questions about Russian ties

09/26/16 08:02AM

When Donald Trump's presidential campaign parted ways with campaign chairman Paul Manafort last month, there was no real mystery surrounding the shake-up. Manafort's connections to pro-Putin forces made his position untenable.

Of course, the ties between Trump and the Russian autocrat's government go further than just Manafort. The candidate himself has repeatedly praised Putin and given contradictory statements about his relationship with the foreign president, and Trump's team includes other advisers with Russian connections.

Take Carter Page, a Trump foreign policy adviser, for example. On Friday, Yahoo News published a report, which has not yet been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, that said U.S. intelligence officials are "seeking to determine whether [Page] has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials -- including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president."

Pointing to the report, Tommy Vietor, a former National Security spokesman for President Obama, suggested Trump may very well be "an unwitting Russian agent."

CNN's Jake Tapper asked Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, about the allegations. Conway didn't comment on the accuracy of the reports, but instead argued that Carter Page has no role on Team Trump.
TAPPER: He is not part of the campaign anymore?

CONWAY: No, he's not. He's certainly not part of the campaign that I'm running.... And I also will say, if he's [engaging in back-channel communications with Russian officials], he's certainly not doing it with the permission or knowledge of the campaign, the activities that you described.... He is certainly not authorized to do that.
At a certain level, Conway and other Trump aides have two defenses to choose from. They can either question the accuracy of the reports, or they can accept the reports at face value -- perhaps Page really is secretly trying to strike deals with Vladimir Putin's government -- and insist Page isn't a Trump adviser. Apparently, the Republican ticket is going with the latter.

The problem, of course, is the evidence pointing in the opposite direction. read more

This image combines a background picture taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope (blue/green) with a new very deep ALMA view of this field (orange, marked with circles).

Week in Geek - Hubble redux edition

09/25/16 12:55AM

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) just took the Hubble Ultra Deep Field to the next level.

ALMA is an array of 66 radio dish antennas located at an altitude of over 16.000 feet in the Atacama desert of northern Chile. Much like the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, these dishes all work in concert to create a telescope used to observe radio emission at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths. Astronomers use radio telescopes to probe phenomena such as star formation by observing gas and dust clouds that are too distant and/or too faint to be see by infrared or optical telescopes.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is an image released by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2004 of a patch of sky roughly as big as 1/10th of the full moon. The filed was found to contain 10,000 galaxies of all shapes, sizes, and ages and is the deepest view of the universe to date. Now ALMA has begun to to peer at the same area of the sky to uncover what else might be there that Hubble was unable to see.

The recent results are from only 50 hours of ALMA observing the HUDF. ALMA is slated to observe an additional 150 hours in the near future. They show that total mass of stars in a galaxy is highly correlated with its rate of star formation. Additionally, astronomers were able to identify regions where star-formation was likely to happen next based on the concentration of molecular gas, regions Hubble could never "see". The video below highlights these areas (in orange) superimposed on the HUDF (in blue).

"This is a breakthrough result. For the first time we are properly connecting the visible and ultraviolet light view of the distant Universe from Hubble and far-infrared/millimeter views of the Universe from ALMA." - Jim Dunlop, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Here's some more geek from the week:

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Civil Rights Museum rejects Trump photo-op

Civil Rights Museum rejects Trump photo-op

09/23/16 09:54PM

Rachel Maddow reports on an unplanned detour by the Donald Trump campaign from a planned photo-op stop of The International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina after the museum observed that Donald Trump's values are contrary to those of the museum. watch


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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