Stephen Colbert apologizes to Australia

Recently actors and married couple Johnny Depp and Amber Heard created a controversy by trying to smuggle their two dogs into Australia on a visit while trying to evade that country’s strict quarantine laws. He got caught but was allowed to leave without suffering the serious punishment (that could go up to ten years in prison) that a non-celebrity might have received. He later provided a video of a grudging apology.
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The Spelling Bee gets even worse

I simply do not understand the attraction of the Scripps Spelling Bee competition. It now results in young people spending an extraordinary amount of time memorizing the spelling of words so esoteric that one is never likely to use or hear them except in highly technical contexts. In its early years the winning words were blackguard, conflagration, concede, litigation, breach, saxophone, license, and primarily. In recent years they were appoggiatura, Ursprache, serrefine, guerdon, Laodicean, stromuhr, cymotrichous, guetapens, knaidel, stichomythia, and feuilleton. (See here and here for my earlier posts and in particular read the comments to those posts by readers who added interesting information and insights.)
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Yehudi Menuhin

There has been a great outpouring of grief over the death of Prince who, by all accounts, was a highly gifted and innovative musician. I have not written about his life and death because, although of course I had heard of him, I was not at all familiar with his music, a telling sign of how ignorant I am of so much of popular culture. The Prince phenomenon occurred during a time when I was not paying much attention to the world of popular music.
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Why do I feel revulsion when I see Ted Cruz’s face?

What puzzles (and bothers) me is why I have such an intense visceral dislike for Ted Cruz, even to just seeing his face. Judging people by their looks is a terrible thing, and although it is true that we do judge people almost instantaneously upon meeting them, it is not usually based on whether they are good looking or not, but by more subtle cues as to their likability, trustworthiness, and so on, that are hard to pin down.
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What’s going on in Brazil?

Brazil is a major player in the global economy. There is a great deal of political turmoil going on there right now with the president under impeachment proceedings. The US media is reporting on it as a corruption story, that the current president and her party are corrupt and that this move is a cleansing operation. But Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Brazil, says that while corruption is undoubtedly there, behind the scenes it is being used to remove a government that is supportive of the poor with one that the oligarchy wants in power.
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Why isn’t Sanders’s run for the presidency being hailed as historic?

On February 9, Bernie Sanders broke through a significant barrier in US political history.

“Bernie Sanders made history on Tuesday night as he became the first Jewish-American to win a presidential primary.

The milestone falls just eight days after Ted Cruz became the first Hispanic-American to win a presidential nominating contest with his win in the Iowa Caucuses.

Sanders is not the first Jewish-American to run for president. Both former Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter and former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman mounted unsuccessful campaigns for the White House in 1996 and 2004, respectively. Further, the Republican nominee for president in 1964, Barry Goldwater, was of Jewish descent but was a practicing Episcopalian.

But Sanders is the first Jewish-American candidate, not to mention the first non-Christian candidate of any denomination, to win a state in a presidential primary.”

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Elizabeth Warren slaps down Ted Cruz for whining

There is nothing more annoying than well-off people whining about their petty hardships when, unlike the vast majority of people, they have the option of walking away from the source of their problems. Senator Elizabeth Warren was incensed at senator Ted Cruz when he complained about the four “steep sacrifices” he has made and how much he had to endure by running for president: “sleep, personal time, time with his family and that he faced a “constant barrage” of attacks”.
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Hillary Clinton the warmonger

To the extent that Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum’s political views can be classified, I would place him as a mainstream liberal. He has made no secret of the fact that he supports Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. But even he conceded that the one thing that bothers him about her is her love for the use of US military force and he uses as evidence an article by Adam Landler in the New York Times Magazine that looks at a series of events where she had some role in the decision making and in which she was almost always the most belligerent person.
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