Browsing articles from "February, 2016"

Sick Of Political Parties, Unaffiliated Voters Are Changing Politics

Feb 28, 2016   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Sick Of Political Parties, Unaffiliated Voters Are Changing Politics

A voter marks a ballot for the New Hampshire primary inside a voting booth at a polling place Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Manchester, N.H.i

A voter marks a ballot for the New Hampshire primary inside a voting booth at a polling place Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Manchester, N.H.

David Goldman/AP


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A voter marks a ballot for the New Hampshire primary inside a voting booth at a polling place Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Manchester, N.H.

A voter marks a ballot for the New Hampshire primary inside a voting booth at a polling place Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Manchester, N.H.

David Goldman/AP

Independent Voters In Colorado, Florida and Arizona

The biggest group of voters politicians will have to woo this November are the ones who often don’t get a say in which candidates make into the general election ballot.

Turned off by the partisan wars in Washington, 39 percent of voters now identify themselves as independent rather than affiliated with one of the two major political parties, according to a 2014 analysis by the Pew Research Center. Self-identified Democrats accounted for 32 percent of the electorate, Republicans 23 percent.

That’s a big shift from as recently as 2004 when the electorate was nearly evenly divided into the thirds by the three groups.

But many states require voters to affiliate with a party in order to take part in presidential primaries and caucuses.

NPR checked in with several member station reporters to see what the rise of independent voters means in different parts of the country.

Colorado: Young Voters Flex Political Muscles

Colorado’s more than one million officially unaffiliated voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats in the state. Both parties have about 900,000 registered voters.

Many are under the age of 35, the millennial generation. Colorado has the second fastest growing millennial population in the country, and, by far, the most as a proportion of the population of any swing state.

To get a sense of their political power, more Republicans voted in the 2012 elections than Democrats. Republican Mitt Romney should have been the favorite “But as it was, the unaffiliated probably washed out that difference and then created the winning margin for Obama,” said Judd Choate, who runs the elections division for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

That winning margin was thanks in part to voters like Sara Heisdorffer. The 24-year old lives in the Denver suburb of Westminster. Like many of her friends, neither the Democratic or Republican party interest her.

“People my age will hate me for saying this,” said Heisdorffer. “But it’s kind of that special snowflake thing that millennials get crap for all the time I think.”

Neither party aligns with Heisdorffer’s views, which she describes as socially liberal and fiscally moderate. Like many unaffiliated voters, however, she’s not necessarily independent and generally votes for Democrats.

It’s a long running pattern to see younger voters of any generation not identify with political parties.

“Younger people tend to be less likely to affiliate with parties than older people,” said Joselyn Kylee, a researcher with the Pew Research Center. But, “this is as pronounced as it’s ever been.”

Millennials are shunning political parties at an even greater rate than previous generations, in part due to political dysfunction.

“People give some of the most negative ratings of either party that we’ve seen in the last 20 years,” said Kylee.

But these trends may be changing this election. Since September, 30,535 voters have registered with the Colorado Democratic party.

That includes voters such as Curtis Haverkamp, who attended a Bernie Sanders rally a few months back. At the rally, he learned unaffiliated voters like him couldn’t participate in the caucus.

“Upon hearing that, I registered Democrat,” recalled the 30-year old Haverkamp who lives in Denver.

Both the Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns have been on voter registration drives here, so it’s not clear yet who this spike in Democratic registration will favor. But Haverkamp says either way, the day after the caucus, he’ll switch back to being unaffiliated.

– Ben Markus, Colorado Public Radio

Florida: Puerto Ricans Opt Out Of Party System

In the packed parking lot of a supermarket in the central Florida city of Kissimmee, Jeamy Ramirez and her staff pace toward customers with clipboards in hand, trying to register new voters. Half the population of this growing area are Latino and native Spanish speakers.

“We got a lot of people from Colombia, Venezuela but most are Puerto Rican right now,” said Ramirez, a canvasser with Mi Familia Vota, a voting advocacy group.

In the past year, thousands of Puerto Ricans have left the struggling island for central Florida and they’re the fastest-growing group of independent voters in this crucial swing state, according to an analysis of voter registration data from the Florida Secretary of State’s office.

New Puerto Rican arrivals find that moving to Florida means being able to vote for president, something that’s not possible on the island, and adjusting to a completely different political system.

“They don’t know a lot of the candidates. They start seeing the debates and all that stuff. That’s why they put no party affiliation,” said Ramirez.

But many newcomers keep their focus on politics in Puerto Rico.

“They pay attention to politics on the news. It is an ever present topic of conversation. It is a cultural event of sorts,” said Carlos Vargas Ramos, a researcher at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at the City University of New York.

Here in the U.S., Puerto Ricans discover there are more frequent elections that are often less competitive. Ramos says other barriers to voting are language, voter registration requirements and a general feeling of distance from the political process.

But even Puerto Ricans who have been here a long time choose to stay out of the party system. 69-year-old Luz Maria Sanchez hasn’t been registered with a political party for for 25 years even though the state’s closed primary keeps independents from deciding who’ll make it on the November ballot, but Sanchez said she’s not missing out.

“They say things just to win the candidate. Republicans they say they’re going to fix the country and Democrats, they follow almost the same, but they go the other way around,” said Sanchez.

Back in the parking lot, Jeamy Ramirez hopes that even if Puerto Ricans don’t vote in next month’s primary, they’ll turn out in November when Florida is likely to be a key swing state.

“We can decide right now the presidential election,” said Ramirez.

– Renata Sage, WMFE, Orlando, FL

Arizona: Independent Voters Try Open Up The Party System

It may sound like an oxymoron, but Arizona’s unaffiliated, independent voters are organizing themselves and banding together.

Independents are now the largest voting group in the state, and that trend is only growing. For the past three years, the number of voters registering or re-registering as independent has outpaced new Republican and Democratic registrations combined.

But the last voter registration period that ended Feb. 22 was different. The number of independents in Arizona dropped slightly. That’s likely because unaffiliated voters can’t participate in Arizona’s upcoming presidential primary, and some independents chose a party for that reason.

The rule that excludes independents from the presidential primary is just one example of what independents here find to be unfair about the state’s voting system.

Now this growing group of voters wants more rights at the polls, and they are trying to change that through grassroots pressure.

Patrick McWhortor of the group Open Primaries organized a phone “town hall” last month for independent voters that nearly 13,000 people called into to discuss these efforts.

“Independent voters, now 37 percent of all Arizona registered voters, are treated like second-class citizens,” said McWhortor at the start of the meeting.

He discussed his group’s efforts to get two election reform initiatives on the November ballot. One would make a single primary election with every candidate on the same ballot. The top two candidates would advance regardless of party affiliation. The initiative would also reduce current barriers for independents running for office.

Deb Gain-Braley, a 57-year-old retired accountant in Tempe, became interested in independent voting rights issues after she realized that she would not be able to vote in Arizona’s March 22 presidential primary unless she re-registered again with a party. She had previously been registered as a Republican.

“I think that no one should have to choose a party to vote in America,” Gain-Braley said. “So I went looking to see if there were any other organizations arguing against what’s going on.”

In addition to the Open Primaries group, Gain-Braley also discovered Independent Voters for Arizona, a campaign focused on opening the presidential primary to independents, that she now volunteers for. The group got more than 30,000 people to sign a letter to party leaders asking them to open the primary. So far those calls have not been heeded and the primaries will remain closed this year.

Timothy Castro, who runs Independent Voters for Arizona, argues it’s not fair to exclude Arizona’s 1.2 million voters from a presidential primary paid for with taxpayer dollars.

“If we are paying for something we aren’t allowed to vote in, then let us vote in it, or don’t make me pay for it,” Castro said.

In fact, independents may have more luck getting out of paying for the primary in future years rather than actually voting in it.

A bill making its way through the Arizona legislature would make political parties — not taxpayers — pick up the tab for presidential primaries starting in 2020. The bill is backed by the Secretary of State’s office.

If the bill succeeds, it will still leave independent voters to find a way into future presidential primaries here.

– Jude Joffe-Block, KJZZ, Phoenix, AZ

6 Scenarios That Could Play Out On Super Tuesday

Feb 28, 2016   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on 6 Scenarios That Could Play Out On Super Tuesday

Donald Trump greets supporters after speaking at a caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Hotel  Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump is favored to do well Super Tuesday.i

Donald Trump greets supporters after speaking at a caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump is favored to do well Super Tuesday.

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Donald Trump greets supporters after speaking at a caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Hotel  Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump is favored to do well Super Tuesday.

Donald Trump greets supporters after speaking at a caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump is favored to do well Super Tuesday.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

More than a dozen states vote Tuesday, and almost 1,500 delegates are at stake. It’s the biggest day of the 2016 presidential election, and it could be pivotal.

Elections 2016 Calendar: Primaries and Caucuses

Six southern states are voting Tuesday — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. That means on the Democratic side, black voters will play a pivotal role. But for the GOP, those same southern states mean a more socially conservative, more religious electorate.

But there aren’t just southern states. There are also a few liberal-to-moderate ones, like Vermont, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Colorado — places Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, on the Democratic side, and Marco Rubio, on the Republican side, hope to fair better in.

Hillary Clinton hopes she can put some separation between herself and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday. Can Sanders cut into her margins?i

Hillary Clinton hopes she can put some separation between herself and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday. Can Sanders cut into her margins?

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Hillary Clinton hopes she can put some separation between herself and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday. Can Sanders cut into her margins?

Hillary Clinton hopes she can put some separation between herself and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday. Can Sanders cut into her margins?

Scott Olson/Getty Images

How it could all play out

Democrats

Scenario 1: Clinton wins big, sweeps the southern states fueled by black voters. She pulls away from Sanders in pledged delegates, especially after a win in delegate-rich Texas, and appears well on her way to the nomination. Sanders will have a big hole to climb out of, especially because all Democratic states award their delegates proportionally. The math will make it increasingly challenging, if not impossible, for Sanders.

Scenario 2: Sanders holds serve in whiter, more liberal states and cuts into Clinton’s margins with African Americans and Hispanics, even pulling off a win in a place like Colorado and keeping her delegate advantage to a minimum out of Texas. He mitigates what could have been a disastrous day and lives to fight on. Money continues to roll in, and even though he likely trails in delegates, he’s not tremendously far behind. His message resonates in other, more liberal states to come – and a path is still conceivable.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio mockingly smiles and points toward Donald Trump during the last Republican presidential debate before Super Tuesday. Rubio hopes to pick off some states.i

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio mockingly smiles and points toward Donald Trump during the last Republican presidential debate before Super Tuesday. Rubio hopes to pick off some states.

Michael Ciaglo/Pool/Getty Images


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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio mockingly smiles and points toward Donald Trump during the last Republican presidential debate before Super Tuesday. Rubio hopes to pick off some states.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio mockingly smiles and points toward Donald Trump during the last Republican presidential debate before Super Tuesday. Rubio hopes to pick off some states.

Michael Ciaglo/Pool/Getty Images

Republicans

Scenario 1: Trump has another yuuuge day. He sweeps the South, is competitive with Cruz in Texas, if not beats him, even wins or comes close in places like Minnesota, Massachusetts and Vermont. He expands his base, looks more like the apparent nominee and makes it a very difficult, narrow path for Marco Rubio, who is hoping to rack up wins in winner-take-all states to come on March 15 and beyond. (Texas is must-win for Cruz. If Trump beats him in his home state, the rationale for his candidacy collapses.)

Scenario 2: Trump is wounded. Cruz wins in at least some southern states where Trump was favored, and Marco Rubio holds serve with more moderate Republicans and pulls off a couple wins. The narrative changes. Cruz would be pulling delegates from Trump, and Rubio’s path becomes very clear.

Scenario 3: Mix of Scenarios 1 and 2. Trump’s wins are not quite as big as Scenario 1, but he still wins the day. Cruz holds ’em in Texas. Rubio picks up a couple of wins in more moderate states. And all three declare victory and continue on in a potentially protracted race.

Scenario 4: John Kasich surprises Rubio in places he was favored in more moderate states. Trump holds, or he and Cruz split, and the establishment moves more toward Kasich. This is the least likely scenario.

Thin Mint Mashup: Grind Those Girl Scout Cookies Into Cheesecake

Feb 28, 2016   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Thin Mint Mashup: Grind Those Girl Scout Cookies Into Cheesecake

Girl Scout Cookie Unity Cheesecake: the mashup dessert you never knew you needed.i

Girl Scout Cookie Unity Cheesecake: the mashup dessert you never knew you needed.

Courtesy of Emily Vonn/Vail Custom Cakes


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Courtesy of Emily Vonn/Vail Custom Cakes

Girl Scout Cookie Unity Cheesecake: the mashup dessert you never knew you needed.

Girl Scout Cookie Unity Cheesecake: the mashup dessert you never knew you needed.

Courtesy of Emily Vonn/Vail Custom Cakes

With apologies to Andy Williams, now is the most wonderful time of the year … for it is Girl Scout cookie season.

But after plowing through several sleeves of Thin Mints, fatigue can set in. So we wondered, when you’re starting to feel sick of Girl Scout cookies, is there a way to rekindle the love?

We turned to Dan Pashman, host of The Sporkful podcast at WNYC studios, for advice. His book, Eat More Better, tackles this pressing public-interest matter. He suggests mixing it up — quite literally, by baking a cheesecake crafted from a mashup of cookies. His recipes for Girl Scout Unity Cheesecake and Peanut Butter Cookie Centaur are excerpted below.

Note: You might be puzzled to see some cookies listed with two names. As Pashman explains in his book, many Girl Scout Cookies come with a bizarre naming convention: “They actually have two different names, depending on which of two licensed bakers is manufacturing them. (Troops decide which baker to use.)” He writes:

“One baker (ABC Bakers) uses literal names that give the eater an idea of what’s inside — Caramel deLites, Peanut Butter Patties, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Shortbreads. The other (Little Brownie Bakers) uses random words that communicate nothing — Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, Trefoils. (It’s not surprising that a company called ABC shows a greater reverence for language.)”

Girl Scout Cookie Unity Cheesecake

The finished cheesecake: The left arrow points to the crust, made from Thin Mints, Trefoils/Shortbreads, and Do-Si-Dos/PB Sandwiches. The upper right arrow is pointing to a Tagalong/PB Patty suspended in the cheesecake. The bottom right arrow is pointing to a Samoa/Caramel DeLite sitting along the bottom.

The finished cheesecake: The left arrow points to the crust, made from Thin Mints, Trefoils/Shortbreads, and Do-Si-Dos/PB Sandwiches. The upper right arrow is pointing to a Tagalong/PB Patty suspended in the cheesecake. The bottom right arrow is pointing to a Samoa/Caramel DeLite sitting along the bottom.

Alex Eben Meyer


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Alex Eben Meyer

If you unify a bunch of different Girl Scout cookies in a single cheesecake, it doesn’t matter what they’re called. It’s Girl Scout Cookie Unity Cheesecake. And it’s amazing.

My friend Emily Konn, a passionate eater and professional pastry chef, makes the best cheesecake I’ve ever eaten. I asked her to create a cheesecake that uses as many types of Girl Scout cookies as possible.

Crust

You will need:

8 tablespoons (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted

1 box Do-si-dos/Peanut Butter Sandwiches

1 sleeve Thin Mints

1 sleeve Trefoils/Shortbreads

1 box Samoas/Caramel deLites

Instructions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350. Grind all cookies except Samoas in a food processor or blender, or put in a sealable plastic bag and crush with a mallet or rolling pin into a fine meal. Mix with butter by hand and press into a 10-inch springform pan. Make sure cookies are evenly distributed along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately layer Samoas on crust so chocolate melts slightly and helps cookies stick to the crust. Let crust cool at room temperature for 15 minutes. Transfer to refrigerator and chill completely (about 1 hour).

Chef’s note: This recipe accounts for at least two cookies being eaten out of each box during the cooking process.

Filling

You will need:

24 ounces cream cheese

⅔ cup sugar

3 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1 box Tagalongs/Peanut Butter Patties, cut into quarters

Instructions

Soften cream cheese until it’s very mixable. You can even microwave it briefly on defrost until it starts to soften.

Place cream cheese and sugar in a bowl. Use a mixer on medium-high speed (with a paddle attachment if you have it) to beat the cream cheese and sugar together until cream cheese is smooth. Scrape sides of bowl. With mixer on medium speed, add eggs 1 at a time. When all eggs are added, continue to mix until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl twice. With mixer running on medium, gradually pour in heavy cream. Mix until just combined. (Do not overmix. If it starts to look thick like whipped cream, you overmixed.) Optional extra step: Strain it through a fine-meshed strainer to remove lumps. This gives you more margin for error if you messed up your mixing.

Pour mixture into cooled crust. Tap pan on counter to dislodge air pockets. Drop the Tagalongs evenly into the batter.

Prepare a water bath in a pan big enough to hold your cake. Crush aluminum foil together to create an S that will hold up the cake above the water level. Place cake on top of foil and make sure it’s stable. Place in oven and pour water in pan just until it reaches the bottom of pan. If you go above the foil your crust will get soggy.

Water bath technique for making the cheesecake

Water bath technique for making the cheesecake

Alex Eben Meyer


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Alex Eben Meyer

Foil and Water Bath Technique

Bake for 15 minutes at 350, then lower temperature to 250 and continue to bake for another 60 to 90 minutes or until it’s firm and only the center of the cheesecake looks a little wet and wobbly (but not cracking). Let stand on rack on counter for a half hour, then refrigerate for four hours or overnight.

Girl Scout Peanut Butter Cookie Centaur

Peanut Butter Girl Scout Cookie Centaur — where the PB sandwich (aka Do-Si-Dos) and patty cookies (aka Tagalongs) unite.

Peanut Butter Girl Scout Cookie Centaur — where the PB sandwich (aka Do-Si-Dos) and patty cookies (aka Tagalongs) unite.

Alex Eben Meyer


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Alex Eben Meyer

Here’s a simpler way to bring Girl Scout cookies together into something new. You’ll need Peanut Butter Sandwiches (a.k.a. Do-si-dos) and Peanut Butter Patties (a.k.a. Tagalongs).

Separate top and bottom cookies of the Peanut Butter Sandwich and focus attention on half with more peanut butter on it. Lay the Peanut Butter Patty cookie upside down on that half, so Patty’s peanut butter and Sandwich’s peanut butter are against each other and on the bottom half of the sandwich, facing tongueward, to capitalize on the Proximity Effect (page TK in “Physical Sciences”). Place other half of Sandwich cookie on top. Enjoy.

Cheesecake recipe (and photo) by Emily Konn of Vail Custom Cakes, text excerpted from Eat More Better by Dan Pashman.

#OscarsSoWhite? Not At This School

Feb 28, 2016   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on #OscarsSoWhite? Not At This School

First grade students rock out to Let's Go Crazy, honoring their chosen black icon, singer-songwriter Prince.i

First grade students rock out to “Let’s Go Crazy,” honoring their chosen black icon, singer-songwriter Prince.

Michelle Maternowski/WUWM


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First grade students rock out to Let's Go Crazy, honoring their chosen black icon, singer-songwriter Prince.

First grade students rock out to “Let’s Go Crazy,” honoring their chosen black icon, singer-songwriter Prince.

Michelle Maternowski/WUWM

For one day, kids at Milwaukee College Prep’s 36th Street campus aren’t wearing their uniforms. Instead, they’re decked out in suits and dresses for the first-ever Academy Awards of Excellence.

Office administrator, Tanya Griffin, plays paparazzi by snapping pictures of students, parents and teachers as they step and repeat in front of a gold backdrop.

“Who are you wearing?” Griffin asks parents as they make their way down the red carpet — plastic runners taped to the linoleum floor.

As the paparazzi clears, the awards crowd makes its way into the ballroom, the school auditorium, for the show.

College Prep student Troy Brumfield recites the poem, Hey Black Child by Countee Cullen.i

College Prep student Troy Brumfield recites the poem, “Hey Black Child” by Countee Cullen.

Michelle Maternowski/WUWM


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College Prep student Troy Brumfield recites the poem, Hey Black Child by Countee Cullen.

College Prep student Troy Brumfield recites the poem, “Hey Black Child” by Countee Cullen.

Michelle Maternowski/WUWM

The 88th annual Academy Awards airs tonight and, again, the awards are being criticized for lacking diversity. That’s why the kids at this school, where ninety-nine percent of the student body is African-American, decided to stage their own Oscars ceremony.

They’re giving the Academy Award of Excellence to some black members of Hollywood, past and present, who didn’t get Oscar nominations, but arguably should have.

Third graders nod to Will Smith and perform a montage of scenes from his most famous movies including last year’s Concussion.

“Every time black people get nominated for a role, it seems like it’s when we play a derogatory character,” says 14-year-old student Lanaya Greer. “But when we are in movies that lift us higher like Straight Outta Compton and Creed, we don’t exactly get recognition for that.”

Lanaya says the program gives her and her classmates a chance to pay tribute to people in pop culture who not only look like them, but also represent them.

But it’s not just about the Oscars. Students also perform as famous African-Americans in history, like poet Langston Hughes, and figures of today, like President Barack Obama, giving acceptances speeches highlighting their contributions to black culture in America.

A student holds her Academy Award of Excellence statue.i

A student holds her Academy Award of Excellence statue.

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A student holds her Academy Award of Excellence statue.

A student holds her Academy Award of Excellence statue.

Rachel Morello/WUWM

One class honors ninety-one year old actress Cicely Tyson for her 1978 portrayal of Harriet Tubman in A Woman Called Moses, and the honorees in every category receive a gold plastic statue with an “E” on top, for “Excellence.”

James Powell has two grandsons and three great-nieces performing in the program. He says he’d heard about the Oscars controversy and is proud of the school for addressing the situation.

“It helps with our heritage,” Powell says. “Not only in the homes are we trying to teach our black heritage, but it is starting to develop and show up here in the schools too, and that’s a good thing.”

Super Tuesday: Here’s What You Need To Know

Feb 27, 2016   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Super Tuesday: Here’s What You Need To Know

A voter marks a ballot during the New Hampshire primary. So far just a small percentage of votes have been cast. But that changes after Super Tuesday.i

A voter marks a ballot during the New Hampshire primary. So far just a small percentage of votes have been cast. But that changes after Super Tuesday.

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A voter marks a ballot during the New Hampshire primary. So far just a small percentage of votes have been cast. But that changes after Super Tuesday.

A voter marks a ballot during the New Hampshire primary. So far just a small percentage of votes have been cast. But that changes after Super Tuesday.

David Goldman/AP

Everyone’s talking about “Super Tuesday,” what it means and that it’s such a big deal in this presidential campaign. But why? Here’s a quick explainer. Think of it as a frequently asked questions for Super Tuesday:

What is Super Tuesday? It’s when more states vote and more delegates are at stake than on any other single day in the presidential primary campaign.

Isn’t it also called the SEC Primary? That’s a colloquial term used by some. It refers to the collegiate athletic conference, the Southeastern Conference, known for its powerhouse football teams. Several states holding contests on Super Tuesday have teams that play in the SEC (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas). But many others do not.

When is it? Tuesday, March 1

How many states are actually voting? 13, plus the territory of American Samoa and Democrats Abroad (expatriates who consider themselves Democrats). We will see results in only 12 of those states (11 for Democrats, 11 for Republicans), because Republicans in Wyoming and Colorado begin their caucuses that day but won’t have a presidential preference poll.

Where will we see results? Alabama (RD), Alaska (R only), American Samoa (D), Arkansas (RD), Colorado (D), Georgia (RD), Massachusetts (RD), Minnesota (RD), Oklahoma (RD), Tennessee (RD), Texas (RD), Vermont (RD) and Virginia (RD), plus Democrats Abroad.

Other contests occurring on March 1, but not producing results: Wyoming (R) and Colorado (R). They are included on our calendar since Republican voters in those states will be starting the voting process that day.

How many delegates are up for grabs? 1,460 (865 for Democrats, 595 for Republicans). For Democrats, there are an additional 150 unpledged delegates, otherwise known as “superdelegates,” in Super Tuesday states. They are free to vote however they want at the national convention this summer. With superdelegates added in, Super Tuesday represents 22 percent of all delegates.

How big is Super Tuesday? For perspective, so far, only about 2 percent of the pledged Democratic delegates and 5 percent of the Republican delegates have been allocated. After Super Tuesday, that will jump to almost a quarter (24 percent) for the Democrats and about 30 percent for the GOP.

That’s not a majority, though: True. But it’s the snowball effect. If Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina were the kids’ snowball that started down the mountain, Super Tuesday is what happens when that snowball hits the steepest part of the slope.

What’s the day with the second most states and delegates? March 15, when five big states vote — Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio. And the system changes. Those carry 1,058 delegates (691 for Democrats, 367 for Republicans). More states start to become winner-take-all. By the end of March, about half of all Democratic delegates (48 percent) and almost two-thirds of Republican delegates (63 percent) will have been allocated.

NPR’s Arnie Seipel contributed to this post.

In Fighting FBI, Apple Says Free Speech Rights Mean No Forced Coding

Feb 27, 2016   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on In Fighting FBI, Apple Says Free Speech Rights Mean No Forced Coding

New York police officers stand outside an Apple Store on Tuesday while monitoring a pro-encryption demonstration.i

New York police officers stand outside an Apple Store on Tuesday while monitoring a pro-encryption demonstration.

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New York police officers stand outside an Apple Store on Tuesday while monitoring a pro-encryption demonstration.

New York police officers stand outside an Apple Store on Tuesday while monitoring a pro-encryption demonstration.

Julie Jacobson/AP

The Justice Department wants Apple to write special software to help it break into the iPhone used by one the San Bernardino terrorists.

In its filing opposing a federal judge’s order to help the government, Apple says it would be a violation of its First Amendment rights to free speech.

It’s pretty well established that speech comes in many forms, says Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law.
“We can talk, we can write words, we can draw paintings, we can take photographs…”

Goldman says back in the 1990s, courts began to confront the question of whether software code is a form of speech. Goldman says the answer to that question came in a case called Bernstein v. US Department of Justice.

Daniel Bernstein was a student at University of California, Berkeley, who created an encryption software called “Snuffle.” Bernstein wanted to put it on the Internet, and the government tried to stop him using a law meant to stop the export of firearms and munitions.

Goldman says the student argued that his code was a form of speech.

“It clearly had expressive intent about what message the software author was trying to send to the world,” says Goldman. “It was trying to say ‘I believe that privacy is important, and I’m going to use this software in order to express that.’ “

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, and software has been treated as a form of speech ever since.

Lawyer Ted Olson, shown at the Los Angeles premiere of HBO's The Case Against 8 in 2014, is representing Apple in its legal face-off with federal investigators.

An iPhone user attends a rally at the Apple flagship store in Manhattan on Tuesday to support the company's refusal to help the FBI access an encrypted iPhone.

The Apple logo is illuminated in the entrance to the Fifth Avenue Apple store in New York City. The company has until Feb. 26 to respond to the Justice Department's motion and an earlier court order.

Based on that, Apple is arguing that the First Amendment also prevents the government from telling it what to say — in this case, that it’s OK to break through the security on its phones.

Andrew Crocker, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF — a digital civil rights group — says the government can’t make you say what you don’t believe. He looks to a supreme court case from New Hampshire, Wooley v. Maynard.

“New Hampshire has a license plate that says ‘Live Free or Die,’ and someone objected to that on religious grounds,” says Crocker. “And the court said ‘no, in fact you don’t have to have that on your license plate.’ “

But it’s not that the government can’t make you say anything you don’t want to, says Professor Goldman: “There are plenty of circumstances where the government mandates people to speak — for example, you have to put the nutrition label on your can of food if you want to sell that food into the economy.”

And just as there are safety issues involved in the sale of food, the government says there are safety issues in its case against Apple. It’s possible there is something on the iPhone that tells of another pending plot against U.S. citizens.

EFF attorney Andrew Crocker says Congress could make rules that force Apple to cooperate.

“If you had a law that required them to do this in the first place, we might argue about whether that law is logical, or a good idea, or in fact is constitutional for other reasons” says Crocker. “But it would at least establish a baseline that Apple had to comply with. And that’s not the case here — they were totally free to design their software the way they did.”

Congress may change that: Several congressional committees are looking into the issue, and Apple’s top lawyer is scheduled to testify before a House Committee next week.

A Writer-Engineer’s Historical Fiction Hack: Add Dragons

Feb 27, 2016   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on A Writer-Engineer’s Historical Fiction Hack: Add Dragons

Naomi Novik says Uprooted was inspired by her family's history on Poland.i

Naomi Novik says Uprooted was inspired by her family’s history on Poland.

Beth Gwinn/Courtesy of Naomi Novik


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Beth Gwinn/Courtesy of Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik says Uprooted was inspired by her family's history on Poland.

Naomi Novik says Uprooted was inspired by her family’s history on Poland.

Beth Gwinn/Courtesy of Naomi Novik

Author Naomi Novik is a world builder. She writes books about dragons, witches and dark woods — and she’s also designed computer games. “I’m an engineer and a writer,” she says, “and I find that those two things are not uncomplimentary.”

Novik’s career as a writer and programmer started in the same place — her sophomore college dorm. “I ended up rooming in a dorm that was basically a solid wall of female scientists, and every Wednesday we would all watch Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

It was the early days of the Internet, and Novik found her way to a discussion list for Trekkers. Engaging with fan communities online got her interested in two things: coding and fan fiction. She completed her master’s degree in computer science, but continued to write fan fiction on the side.

Almost a decade after she first went online, she says she was working as a programmer for a computer game “and something about that whole process of building the structure of that game turned into a real kind of light-bulb moment for me as a writer.” At the time, her fan fiction at was inspired by swashbuckling adventure novels set in the Napoleonic era. But something started happening to her stories — they were getting longer and more complex.

“Then all of a sudden I sort of started to feel that I was constrained by the characters, as opposed to enjoying them,” she says. “And that remains for me to this day the line … where it’s like: OK, you’re not writing fan fiction anymore.”


His Majesty's Dragon

She also had an idea she wanted to run with: “What could make the Napoleonic wars more exciting? Dragons!” And one dragon in particular: Temeraire. He’s central in her 9-book “Temeraire” series, which opens with the dragon becoming the responsibility of Will Laurence, a naval captain fighting for the British against Napoleon. Laurence is chivalrous with a keen sense of duty, but he embraces the 19th-century conventions that Novik paints in faithful detail — even some that are distasteful to 21st-century readers, like class hierarchies and the roles of women. Temeraire, on the other hand, is newly hatched; he provides a more critical, modern voice.

“Temeraire comes out talking, thinking for himself,” Novik says, “and immediately starts overturning all of Laurence’s assumptions because he doesn’t take things for granted.” The last installment in the “Temeraire” series is due out this summer.

According to Novik, combining fantasy and historical fiction allows you to have a conversation with the past that you might not get with a straightforward historical novel. “You can actually muck with history and think about: What if? Why not?” she says. “What if there were dragons in the Incan empire that allowed them to resist colonization? What if there were a massive dragon empire in the middle of the interior of southern Africa that decided to take objection to the slave trade?”

Novik’s attraction to characters who provide an outsider’s perspective comes from her own experience. Her parents are immigrants who came to the U.S. from Eastern Europe before she was born. Her grandmother was executed for her role in the Polish resistance during World War II, and her mother defected from Communist Poland and was separated from her family for many years.


Uprooted

Uprooted is the book she wrote from those fragments of her family history, and it’s a finalist for one of the highest prizes in American science fiction and fantasy, the Nebula Award. Set in the Poland of her mother’s bedtime stories, it follows a young witch as she unravels the mystery that lies in a dark wood at the edge of her village. “It’s a place that should be nurturing, that should be positive and beautiful and have wild magic to it,” Novik says. “And it has all been twisted inward by rage, by hatred and by the severing of connections.”

These days, Novik’s coding work is mostly volunteer. She likes the idea of designing games again, but she says she’s happy where she is. “As a novelist, you have just unlimited budget, total creative control. You really get to have your cake — all the cake — and then you can have a second cake if you want it, too.”

She still writes fan fiction, though — more than 450 stories in 50 different fandoms — and when she sits down to write, about half of it is fan fiction. Until, of course, her characters begin to chafe against the boundaries and a new story is born.

Read an excerpt of Uprooted

Read an excerpt of His Majesty’s Dragon

Placid Madonnas Please Antisocial Men Of Genius In ‘Almanac’

Feb 27, 2016   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Placid Madonnas Please Antisocial Men Of Genius In ‘Almanac’


A Doubter's Almanac

A Doubter's Almanac promo

Madness and genius make a familiar literary couple whose success with readers, I suspect, depends on a certain amount of gratified vanity: who wouldn’t like to imagine that their moods and eccentricities are down to brilliance? Ethan Canin’s new novel is about the “the unremitting quarantine” of this type of genius — a genius transmitted from father to son like a curse — and about the fight to reject this dark inheritance. But as the book does not seem to admit the possibility of women having intellectual lives, my critical faculties were happily unimpaired by an inflated ego resulting from identification with the characters. I can remain clear-eyed when I tell you that all of Canin’s painfully and beautifully-evoked male struggles were lost on me: I was looking at the women in the background.

Even as a child, Milo Andret is an intuitive topologist. He can map the world around him with unerring precision, but has no emotional or social intuition. Precocious and antisocial, he ends up a young graduate student of mathematics at Berkeley, “a savant from the woods.” There, he throws himself into one of the great unsolved mathematical puzzles of the century.

Milo wants “to live so that he could solve a great problem,” but as he embarks on his life’s work, his mind begins to betray him. It is full of “Elusive bits. Scattering intuitions. The instinctive way-signs eluding him. His ruinous failure outside the window day and night like an assassin.” He gains a professorship at Princeton, where his failures compound each other: drinking, disastrous affairs, and academic disappointment. He assaults another professor, whose wife he has been sleeping with, and his life at Princeton comes to a close. At this point, a little less than halfway through the novel, we discover that it is being narrated by Hans, Milo’s son, who is just as mathematically talented and just as lonely as his father, but perhaps not quite as doomed.

You befriend, in fiction, hosts of monsters, rapists, and killers. This is the awe and terror of literature: finding kinship where you don’t expect or want it. You keep company with Humbert Humbert, and you like it. I have loved worse monsters than Milo Andret, but his genius is unappealing, his charm nonexistant. Milo, we are told but never shown, holds strange appeal. Women in the novel all seem to want to sleep with him: the pretty secretary, the wives of colleagues (“some mild beauty with a colored drink in her hand”), the reporter who has “already been to bed with two Pulitzer Prize winners.”

It’s not clear why they want to sleep with him, but silence on that point is typical of this book, in which women are always audience, never actors: they are a calming hand, a pretty face. Milo orders for them in restaurants, follows them, ignores them when they say no. Sometimes they “pretend[] resistance,” but then they fall into a familiar sequence: blush, titter, accede, climax, cry. “Stop following other people’s rules,” one tells him. “you’re beyond them.”

Bad characters do not make a book bad, and masculine striving and female accommodation are things you find in real life. Canin’s women do chafe in their bonds. In one such moment, Hans and his mother sit on a dock by the lake:

“My mother looked up at the cloud of wings and feelers. ‘Mayflies,’ she said.

‘They seem to be committing suicide in pairs.’

‘You’re right.’ She leaned back and let out a sigh. ‘They’re mating.'”

But we glimpse her sorrow, never her mind. Here she is, acquiescent and sad like T.S. Eliot’s “infinitely gentle / Infinitely suffering thing.” Even when confined, women’s inner lives are just as large as men’s — but you would not know it from A Doubter’s Almanac.

When women are brilliant, as some of them in this novel are, the brilliance is not epic or complex — it is just noted, never sounded. Paulette, Hans’ sister, is as smart as he is, but we never hear about her research. Nor that of one Russian mathematician Milo has an affair with, who talked about “Soviet politics or academic mathematics, the way other women might talk about roses or the house.”

But mostly, Canin’s women are placid, suffering Madonnas, innocents in thrall to men of genius. Milo’s wife, Hans writes, “washed and washed. She tidied and tidied… Apologized and apologized… She was a creature who lived to serve others. If that is the criterion one uses for loveliness, then my mother was the paragon of loveliness.” But what a definition for loveliness! Cleaning and apologizing. Because of the author’s skill, Canin’s women look almost like real ones, but closer examination reveals that they are just furniture: soft, accommodating, stable, and ancillary.

Like a certain topologist who can map the world but not the heart, Canin renders half the world with precision and beauty — but, as for the other half, like Milo, he does not even know what he can’t see.

Annalisa Quinn is a freelance journalist and critic covering books and culture.

Rubio, Cruz Use Debate To Try To Chip Away At Trump Ahead Of Super Tuesday

Feb 26, 2016   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Rubio, Cruz Use Debate To Try To Chip Away At Trump Ahead Of Super Tuesday

The candidates for the Republican presidential nomination held their last debate before the Super Tuesday primaries Thursday night in Houston.The subject matter was the same as in earlier debates, and so was the sniping among the candidates.

Disqualified Candidate Sits On Sidelines Of Iran’s Parliamentary Election

Feb 26, 2016   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Disqualified Candidate Sits On Sidelines Of Iran’s Parliamentary Election

Iranians are voting Friday in parliamentary election but not everyone who wants to be a candidate is permitted to run. A group must affirm candidates are properly educated, religious and loyal.

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