Where the Democratic donkey and the Republican elephant came from

As the Republican convention gets underway tomorrow in Cleveland and the Democrats the following week in Philadelphia, expect to see a lot of images of elephants and donkeys during the two events. In Sri Lankan politics, all political parties have an associated symbol that they choose for themselves. The symbols can be animals or inanimate items like a chair. These are prominently displayed at all party functions and are even present on ballot papers next to the party candidate’s name. This serves a practical purpose for voters who might be illiterate because they can identify whom to vote for by the symbol alone.
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The chaos behind Trump’s choice of Pence

It now turns out that the initial speculation that Donald Trump’s botched announcement of Indiana governor Mike Pence as his running was due to him not being sure he wanted him seems to be correct. Usually, such an announcement is made with great fanfare in the hope of gaining positive coverage for the ticket. But yesterday Trump made the choice on Twitter and Pence accepted the same way, a low-budget affair if there ever was one, just the kind of thing Trump hates.
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Call for assistance with media monitoring during RNC

Those who follow media coverage of the RNC convention may be able to help me with the monitoring of the media. In particular, I am looking for the following things:

• Use of police force and to what degree
• Crowd control techniques (mounted police)
• Dispersal orders
• Police/reporter interactions
• Acts of civil disobedience
• Use of: pepper spray, tear gas, wooden bullets, rubber pellets.

If you see any of those things in the media, it would help me if you could jot down the following information and email it to me.

1. Date:
2. Time:
3. News Outlet:
4. Any comments or observations:


The cumulative impact of police shootings is having an effect

With each new incident where the police have killed someone, the past events get shifted to the background and even forgotten by those of us who have no personal connection to the events or are not activists. On the program Here and Now host Jeremy Hobson went through a list of nine recent high profile episodes of police killings of black people and the aftermath, with no action being taken against the police in almost all of the cases. You can read the transcript but I strongly recommend clicking on the link and listening to it even though it takes longer because it is so very powerful. There is something about the unemotional reading up of one case after another, accompanied by audio of the events, that carries great weight and makes you realize how awful things have become.
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Idle question: Why do some talk show hosts still have microphones on their desks?

If you look at the clips of some talk show hosts such as Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, and Jimmy Fallon, who all sit at desks and talk to their guests, you will notice a large microphone on the desk. As far as I am aware, all the hosts and guests nowadays have wireless microphones attached to their clothing somewhere so why is there a desk microphone? Nobody actually talks directly into it. Does it serve some purpose or is it just a nod to tradition?