Jeff Flake May Return to Senate in 2020

Phoenix, AZ- Recently re-elected Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey (R-AZ), told members of the press on Friday that he would not rule out Jeff Flake (R-AZ) as a possible successor to current stand-in Senator, John Kyl (R-AZ), who took over the Senate seat of John McCain (R-AZ), who passed away earlier this year after a battle with a brain tumor.

“I am aware that Senator Flake chose not to run for re-election this term because of the political climate,” the Governor said from the steps of the capitol building. “That being said, political winds have a tendency to change directions without warning. Ideally, I’d love to go with Martha (McSally (R-AZ)), but after her recent defeat, I think that it would be irresponsible not to at least keep one “moderate” candidate on standby, just in case the winds shift towards pragmatism and bipartisanship. According to Jon (Kyl), he plans on stepping down after the 2019 congressional term, so we’ve got some time before we have to make that decision.” Read more Jeff Flake May Return to Senate in 2020

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The Living Death of Theresa May: How Long Can London’s Most Notorious Political Zombie Cling On?

George Osborne notoriously (some would say renownedly!) compared Theresa May to a ‘dead woman walking.’

But it’s worse.

It’s far, far worse.

People are even comparing her to Anthony Eden, often considered the worst PM in UK history; although Tony Blair is obviously a close second, after sending my country to war on the basis of deliberately fabricated intelligence.

Read more The Living Death of Theresa May: How Long Can London’s Most Notorious Political Zombie Cling On?

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Trump Administration Unveils ‘Brand New’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Washington, DC- In what will surely go down as one of the most bizarre press conferences in recent memory; White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced both her plans to step down as the official mouth piece of the Trump Administration in January, and introduced the woman who will be her successor… Sarah HUCKabee Sanders 2.0.

Members of the press were visibly shocked when a holographic representation of Huckabee Sanders ‘stepped’ out from behind a curtain at the rear of the stage, and joined the Press Secretary on stage.

Read more Trump Administration Unveils ‘Brand New’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders

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Boris Johnson in ‘Islamophobic’ EU Gaffe: Why Don’t We Just Try an Islamic Divorce?!

Scandal-plagued Brexit hardliner Boris Johnson has recently distanced himself from the even more scandal-plagued Theresa May, with a spiffing jape about how to really chuck Chequers. Read more Boris Johnson in ‘Islamophobic’ EU Gaffe: Why Don’t We Just Try an Islamic Divorce?!

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Brexit Britain is Easy Fodder for Satirists: but They Should Learn from 18th-Century Masters How to do it Properly

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Artwork courtesy of Richard LIttler (scarfolk.blogspot.com)

Adam J Smith, York St John University

If you thought satire was dead in the age of Brexit and Trump, then a quick look at social media should pretty quickly disabuse you of that illusion. Search “Festival of Brexit Britain” if you want a picture of satire’s bright future. Theresa May’s recent announcement that she wants the UK to hold a national festival in 2022 to celebrate leaving the EU prompted an avalanche of humorous memes – including the illustration by the artist Richard Littler at the top of this article.

The question is, though: are we witnessing a revival of satire as a far more prolific and potent form than ever before – or, because of the sheer numbers of people using social media to try to make humorous points, are we seeing its dilution to the point of redundancy? Read more

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Broadcasting Rules are Killing Political Satire – Thank Heavens for the Internet

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Jonathan Pie/YouTube

Allaina Kilby, University of Nottingham

Political journalists, especially during elections, should provide balanced news coverage of parties and scrutinise each parties’ political agendas to help properly inform the public. Sadly this is an ideal that is all-too-rarely realised. The 2015 election was reported as a horse race, the EU referendum starved voters of the facts about Brexit and coverage of this year’s election campaign has been more about demonising Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn than in taking a close look at the rival parties’ policy platforms.

And, as ever, major parties are making it as hard as possible for the public to make an informed choice by adopting tightly controlled campaign strategies where they refrain from answering direct questions from journalists and engaging with voters.

These trends are problematic, because they can unfairly influence our understanding of political parties and their policies. Nevertheless, they are key ingredients for an atmosphere that is ripe for political satire. Satire, after all, attempts to focus on the unanswered questions and clarify the underlying morality of the political landscape. It’s a practice that American TV satire has capitalised on over the past 17 years thanks to the rise of professionalised politics and a highly partisan media. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, for example, left a legacy of engaging political critique now adopted by shows such as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Sam Bee’s Full Frontal. Read more

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Three Things We Can all Learn From People Who Don’t Use Smartphones or Social Media

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‘Someone likes me.’
Shutterstock.

Rowland Atkinson, University of Sheffield and Mariann Hardey, Durham University

Many of us spend hours every day tethered to our devices, pawing at the screen to see if it will deliver a few more likes or emails, monitoring the world and honing our online presence. Social networking platforms such as Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are supposed to make us feel more connected. Yet our reliance on technology to “see” the social world around us can be a heavy burden.

The Pew Research Centre recently reported that about a quarter of US adults say they are “almost constantly” online. Stress, addiction, depression and anxiety seem unsurprising consequences of using social platforms often specifically designed to keep us repeating the same actions over and over again.

Even so, many would find the prospect of living offline worrisome, or simply impossible. That’s why we undertook a small study with 50 people who may seem nothing less than social outcasts in today’s screen saturated environment. None of our participants used social media or had a mobile phone, and most even refused to email.

We wanted to understand why these people had decided to switch off, and how they managed it. But rather than seeking quick fixes for overuse, we explored the principles and values that drove our participants to live the way they do. Much has already been written about how we can switch off – but that won’t achieve much, unless we really feel the benefits.

Here’s what our respondents said they’d learned, from living their social lives offline. Read more

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#Revolution: How the Humble Hashtag Changed World Politics

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Changing the times.
Shutterstock

Joanna Rozpedowski, Durham University

From fashion trends to global events, the hashtag (#) has become the conspicuous symbol of the Twittersphere. What only a decade ago denoted a numerical symbol of no special significance or attribution is now a call to arms for causes that are many and varied.

The “#” is a social organiser, which emerged spontaneously and dynamically from the content generated and updated by social media users. The initial intent behind the “#”, when Twitter launched in 2006, lay in its simple use as a means of organising data and information. An indexing tool for grouping anything from the politically relevant to the culturally hip, the “#” soon found itself aligned with some of the most significant events in history. Read more

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History of Halloween

Halloween is celebrated on October 31st every year in several countries where people wear strange outfits to drive away ghosts.

It was in the eighteenth century that Pope Gregory III proposed 1st of November to honour all saints. The evening before the All Saints Day was then considered as the All Hallows Eve and later called Halloween. After a period of time, Halloween evolved as an activity which included trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, and eating sweet treats. Read more History of Halloween

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Shirt Tales: How My Lucky Shirt Helped the Red Sox Win

Amid talk of the different factors that led the Red Sox to their fourth World Series in 15 years, one factor has gone on unnoticed.

Sure, they had great (and high-priced) talent and great chemistry. Some claimed having a new manager in Alex Cora changed the culture and helped them keep their competitive edge over a long season (based on his experience as bench coach for last year‘s champs, the Houston Astros). While others pointed that a number of these players had strong motivation for redemption. But so did the Los Angeles Dodgers, who made it to the World Series last year and lost – and did not want to come in second again.

What’s the secret factor?

It’s a Red Sox baseball shirt I bought on a family trip to Cooperstown in January 2014, after the Sox last won the World Series. I didn’t find it at the Hall of Fame but at a store within walking distance. Gray with blue three-quarters sleeves, the cotton shirt I wear as a pajama top features a big Boston Red Sox logo in front and a stylized B on the left arm.

That may not seem like much but there’s something magic about this shirt.

For example, during Game 2, sometime after the Dodgers took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 4th inning, I was watching at home and changed into pajamas. After I put on the shirt, in the bottom of the 5th, the Sox scored three runs and won the game, 4-2.

Although the Red Sox trailed the Dodgers until I put on that shirt, I dismissed it as a coincidence. I mean, the team had won 108 regular-season games, and defeated the Yankees and Astros in the playoffs, and many of those nights I did not wear the shirt. That’s why, when we traveled that weekend to celebrate my wife’s aunt’s 99th birthday in Florida, I didn’t pack the shirt – even though I knew the Sox would play games 3 and 4 before I’d return home and could wear it again.

What happened with Game 3? The Sox lost in a heartbreaking 18 innings, 3-2. If they had just a smidge more good luck, they might have won that game.

Through the 5th inning of Saturday’s Game 4, I was concerned. The game was tied 0-0 until the Dodgers scored four runs in the 6th. I wondered: without my shirt, could the Sox come back from the potentially devastating loss? To their credit, the Sox scored nine runs after the 7th, including five in the top of the 9th for an unbelievable come-from-behind victory, 9-6. But that didn’t disproof the power of the shirt. After all, they’re a great team. They don’t need luck to win every game.

On Sunday’s Game 5, the Sox were up 2-1 by the end of the 1st but there was no guarantee that would be enough. Finally back home in Boston, by the 5th inning, I decided to test my theory, and put on my Red Sox shirt. The result? The Sox scored a run in the 6th, 7th and 8th – enough to win the game 5-1.

Here’s the proof: The Red Sox finished 2-0, winning 100 percent of games when I wore my special Red Sox baseball shirt but were 2-1, winning just 66.67 percent, when I didn’t. That big statistical difference is fairly conclusive.

True, I wasn’t in the stands for any of those games (which one friend suggested is the real reason the Sox won); instead, I watched from home or a guest room (where changing into pajamas wasn’t as weird as if I were watching from anywhere else). Real fans have long recognized that location isn’t really a critical factor. Whether watching from the stands or in a bar or at home in pajamas (these were late games, especially Game 3), our cheers always make a difference.

By the way, I’m not saying the Red Sox won simply because I wore my special shirt. We couldn’t have done it without a lot of talented players stepping up and some excellent managing during the World Series.

But I am proud that when the pressure was on, my shirt didn’t fold.

#  #  #

Note: This is not my actual lucky Red Sox baseball shirt. The actual one, kept under secure conditions, has some key differences, including was made with more luck than this one.

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Power and the Abuse of Language: A Rant by Rashad the Cackler

[The homeless old man, Rashad the Cackler is back with another rant. Enjoy as he spills his guts to passersby on a big city street corner.]

***
We’ve got these democratic, capitalistic societies we’re so proud of. That’s how we “progress,” right? By voting and making money and buying stuff we don’t need.

I’ve been trying to figure out, though, why politicians and pundits make a fetish out of the word “appropriate.” I saw it once on CNN: it was a typical American political negotiation. President Trump had dragged a Democratic senator’s wife into the Oval Office and ordered his henchmen to gang rape her right in front of the senator and his children. They went to town on her, because it was televised so they had to make it a spectacle. I saw a Taser and a cat o’ nine tails and a flaming trident. A donkey got in on the action, and in the end they cut her up into ribbons and vacuumed her remains off the carpet.
Read more Power and the Abuse of Language: A Rant by Rashad the Cackler

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Long-Shot Candidate Proposes Four Ball Legislation to Counter Unfair Three Strikes Law

Walnutport, PA – Political newcomer and long-shot candidate for Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district, Rona De Maritius (D-PA), on Tuesday, announced plans to introduce a controversial piece of legislation in the House, should she emerges victorious in next week’s midterm election.

The bill, tentatively dubbed The Four Balls Measure, is the candidates answer to the state’s current three strikes law, which was enacted in 1995. “Systemic racism has been a part of America’s penal system for far too long,” the candidate told supporters at a rally in Walnut Port, the night before. “These so call “super-predator” laws have unfairly targeted minority segments of the population since they became popular in the 1990’s. It is my hope that this legislation will help to even the playing field for those who have been unfairly targeted or harassed by police in the past. It stands to reason, if a citizen is “out” after three strikes, then he should be considered “safe,” after four balls. If the rule is good enough for baseball, then it stands to reason that it’ll be good enough for citizens of Pennsylvania.”

Read more Long-Shot Candidate Proposes Four Ball Legislation to Counter Unfair Three Strikes Law

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Opinion: The Hidden Benefits of Trumps Proposed Birthright Citizenship Policy

Washington, DC- On Tuesday, President Donald Trump turned up the volume on his immigration rhetoric and left his fellow Republicans holding a big bag of shit, after he announced “plans” to amend the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment, by way of an executive order.

Trump sycophant, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), was adamant in his support of the Presidents announcement, and has indicated he will “introduce legislation along the same lines as the proposed executive order.”

“Finally, a president willing to take on this absurd policy of birthright citizenship. I’ve always supported comprehensive immigration reform – and at the same time- the elimination of birthright citizenship,” Graham tweeted.

House Speaker Paul Ryan was less supportive, “You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order. As a conservative, I’m a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution, and I think in this case the 14th Amendment is pretty clear.”
Read more Opinion: The Hidden Benefits of Trumps Proposed Birthright Citizenship Policy

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Fox News Host Carlson Accuses Meteorologist of Political Bias

Washington, DC- Conservative political commentator Tucker Carlson surprised viewers when he leveled accusations of political bias against Fox News Senior Meteorologist and weekend cohost of Fox and Friends, Rick Reichmuth, during a segment on Tucker Carlson Tonight, last Wednesday night.

For the last segment of the broadcast, Carlson brought in Reichmuth to discuss the effects of Hurricane Willa, which made landfall on the west coast of Mexico, late Tuesday evening. For the first half of the segment, the two hosts appeared amicable as they discussed “the global warming hoax,” accusing both liberal groups and scientists of having a conflict of interest when it came to environmental issues.

“Obviously these people have a vested interest in climate change,” a furious Carlson told his viewers.

Read more Fox News Host Carlson Accuses Meteorologist of Political Bias

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