Democrats seem unable to shake off ineffective leaders

The much-hyped special elections in Georgia and South Carolina have resulted in wins for Republicans. It is true that both are heavily Republican districts but the Democrats had hoped that the unpopularity of Donald Trump, the chaos surrounding his administration, and their health care proposals would enable them to pull off wins. But that was not to be and neither race was close.
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The absurdity of ‘free market health care’

Cartoonist Ruben Bolling captures well the absurdity of the idea that health care should be left to the so-called ‘free market’ (in reality a monopoly or quasi-monopoly market) and that each of us should shop around to find the best possible health insurance for our families. Health care is vastly more complicated than pretty much anything else in our lives. Access to basic health care should be universal and free and paid for by the government out of our taxes. It is just that simple.

Tom the Dancing Bug 1343 chagrin falls 20 – free market health care

Shaming poor children through food

In the US, it seems people believe that we should never let the poor forget that they are not only poor but that it is also their fault for being so. Even children must be made to feel ashamed for essentially having poor parents. For example, about 20 million children in US schools (about 40% of all US students) qualify for free or reduced cost lunches at school because the family income is too low. This is quite a stunning figure for one of the richest countries in the world and is a stark reminder of how skewed wealth and income is here.
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The pernicious sedition laws

Cricket fans in India are notorious for being highly enthusiastic that sometimes crosses over into being bad sports, getting angry when their team is doing badly. There was an infamous event in a 1996 World Cup tournament semi-final game against Sri Lanka that was being played in India. When India started doing poorly and were heading for defeat, fans halted the game twice by throwing bottles on to the field at the Sri Lankan fielders. The last straw was when some fans set fire to the stands. The match referee, the great West Indian cricketer Clive Lloyd, called off the match and awarded the win to Sri Lanka.
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The secret senate (no-)health care plan

While attention is focused elsewhere, just 13 Republicans in the Senate are drafting a health care plan in total secrecy, with no committee hearings planned. This suggests that the plan is going to be a real stinker and that they are planning to ram it through before the details can sink in and there is a popular uprising against it. The media are helping by not highlighting the secrecy and simply ignoring the plan altogether until it is revealed.
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The strange creatures of the deep

The process of evolution produces an extraordinary diversity of species, far greater than we experience in our normal lives. As we become able to explore the Earth in regions that are utterly different to what we normally experience, we discover fascinating new forms of life that are the products of extreme conditions. A team of scientists from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation have been conducting a month long investigation in a deep rift near the coast of Tasmania and brought up creatures that evolved under conditions of extremely high pressures, little food, almost freezing temperatures, and no light. The depths range from 2500-4000 meters. They have been maintaining a daily blog of what they have found.
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Pakistan are surprise winners of ICC Champions Trophy

Pakistan has emerged the winners of the cricket tournament, notching a surprisingly easy win over India in the finals. India had clinically dispatched Bangladesh in the semi-finals, bowling them out for 264 and then reaching that total for the loss of just one wicket. In the other semi-final, Pakistan also beat England easily, reaching the target score of 212 with the loss of just two wickets.
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How permanent occupation is affecting attitudes in Israel

On a recent visit to Israel, Philip Weiss decided to look at how the prolonged occupation of the West Bank and the cruel treatment by the Israeli government of Palestinians who live in the occupied territories and the West Bank has affected Jews living in Israel and what he finds is not encouraging. It is a long piece that features the things he saw and the conversations he had.
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The US and terror groups

Usually when a country suffers a terror attack, especially at the hands of a group like ISIS that is a proclaimed enemy of the US, US politicians are quick to express sympathy for the victims and offer support. But when that country is Iran, no such considerations are visible. Just recently, ISIS attacked the Iranian parliament in Tehran and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Revolution, killing 13 people.
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I need this car horn

Have you noticed that in US cities, when you are at a stop light and the color changes to green, sometimes the person behind will honk angrily if you do not immediately take off like a jack rabbit? That annoys the hell out of me and is one reason why I almost never use the horn even when it is the person in front of me at a stop light who has not immediately noticed that the light has turned to green. In such cases, it is often the driver behind me who horns.
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