Ignore the squirrels released by Donald Trump

I remarked during the debates about how easy it was for Hillary Clinton to have Donald Trump chase after the squirrels she released to deflect from her own problems. But it seems like Trump has learned the value of squirrels and is now using them whenever he needs to distract the media from focusing on anything embarrassing. And now it is the media that is chasing after the squirrels released by Trump, usually in the form of absurd tweets.
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The Israel lobby’s campaign against Keith Ellison and progressive campus student groups

You would think that the recent debacle of the elections would persuade Democrats that they need new leadership that would be more attuned to the needs of ordinary voters than the neoliberal elites that they usually cater to. But it seems like they are determined to stick with their old path. The have re-elected Nancy Pelosi to be minority leader again and it seems like Charles Schumer is going to be the head of their senate minority.
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The other drug epidemic

The drug problem in the US has historically focused on marijuana and heroin and the like and it is relatively recently that people have realized the extent of other dependencies such as on pain-killers. The New York Times has a long article by a young, ambitious, hard-striving woman who attended an elite college about how she got hooked on a commonly prescribed prescription for Adderall, a drug that started out being used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) for young children but now has become used by many adults to power their way through the day. About 16 million prescriptions were written in 2012 for adults between the ages of 20 and 39 and very little known about the long term effects of its use.
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‘Manuel’ of Fawlty Towers has died

The actor Andrew Sachs who played such a memorable role as the long-suffering Spanish waiter Manuel at the hands of the irascible Basil Fawlty (played by John Cleese) has died at the age of 86 after suffering from dementia for the last four years. As the foil for the more famous Cleese, he was a major factor in providing the humor in that series. He was by all accounts an extremely nice person who had a knack for farcical comedy.
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Bogus religious liberty claims

Ever since the US Supreme Court ruled that state laws banning marriages were unconstitutional, opponents have shifted their tactics. We have seen the emergence of evangelical Christian claims that they need to protect ‘religious liberty’ and this tactic is being used as a wedge to allow religious people to freely discriminate against those of whom they disapprove, which usually means the LGBT community and those in same-sex marriages.
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Carlsen retains chess title

The World Chess Championship ended on Wednesday when current champion Magnus Carlsen defeated challenger Sergey Karjakin in the first of the tie breakers that consisted of four rapid-format games all played on the same day. In which each player was allocated just 25 minutes apiece, with 10 seconds added after each move. The regular rules under which the first 12 games ere played lasted up to seven hours.
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How undocumented students go to college

In the heated debate about mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, some anti-immigrant groups are demanding that they not be given any services at all, including education. Some student groups in colleges are calling for them to be made ‘sanctuary colleges’, similar to proposed ‘sanctuary cities’, that will protect such students from being thrown out of the country.
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Could the speed of light have been larger during the very early universe?

A new paper by João Magueijo and Niayesh Afshordi has been published that suggests that the speed of light has not had the same value over the age of the universe but instead could have been much higher, even infinite, at the very beginning of the universe when the cosmic temperature was extremely high. (You can see the paper without a journal subscription here.) Their suggestion is made in response to the well-known problem that the universe seems to be remarkably homogenous and isotropic over its entire size. This suggests that all the parts of the universe were in contact at one time in order for that kind of equilibrium to be reached. The problem is that the fastest communication possible is with light and that speed is not sufficient to create that kind of homogeneity.
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