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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Federal Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin Voter ID Law

Federal Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin Voter ID Law


Federal Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin Voter ID Law

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 11:36 AM PDT

(MILWAUKEE) — A federal judge in Milwaukee has struck down Wisconsin’s voter Identification law, saying it unfairly burdens poor and minority voters.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman issued his long-awaited decision Tuesday. It invalidates Wisconsin’s law.

Wisconsin’s law would have required voters to show a state-issued photo ID at the polls. Supporters said it would cut down on voter fraud and boost public confidence in the integrity of the election process.

But Adelman sided with opponents, who said it disproportionately excluded poor and minority voters because they’re less likely to have photo IDs or the documents needed to get them.

Wisconsin’s law was only in effect for a 2012 primary before a Dane County judge declared it unconstitutional.

NBA Bans Donald Sterling ‘For Life’ After Racist Rant

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 11:27 AM PDT

Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers owner who has been at the center of a national firestorm since a recording emerged last week depicting him making racist comments, was punished Tuesday with a lifetime ban from the NBA and a $2.5 million fine, the league said.

In his first major decision since assuming leadership of the league, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver handed down the unprecedented punishment of banning an owner from his own team. Silver said Sterling will be prohibited from attending games, practices, league owner meetings, or participating in team or league business in any way. Silver said he would ask the other owners to exercise their authority to force a sale of the team—a move that could set up a heated legal battle.

“I am banning Mr. Sterling for life,” Silver said at a news conference in New York. He said the lifetime ban was effective immediately and would remain so regardless of whether Sterling sells the team.

Sterling did not immediately comment Tuesday. The recording, which was first published by TMZ over the weekend, depicted him chastising his then-girlfriend for publicly associating with African-Americans, including NBA legend Magic Johnson, and telling her not to bring black people to Clippers games.

Silver said Sterling acknowledged during the league’s investigation into the recording that it was his voice on the tape. The league’s investigation, Sterling said, determined that “the man whose voice is heard on the recording… is Mr. Sterling, and that the hateful opinions voiced by that man are those of Mr. Sterling.

“The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,” Silver added. “That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage. Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the basis our diverse, multicultural and multiethnic league.”

The ban comes in the midst of a playoff run by the team. The Clippers are tied at two games apiece in a first-round, best-of-seven series against the Golden State Warriors, with game 5 set for Tuesday night in Los Angeles. The distracted Clippers were crushed in game 4 after turning their warmup jerseys inside-out before the game as a show of protest. Silver said he’s hopeful both the team and the league can move past the controversy.

“My message to the Clippers fans is this league is bigger than any one owner,” he said.

Current and former players and coaches—including Johnson, Michael Jordan and Clippers Coach Doc Rivers—and even President Barack Obama had fiercely criticized Sterling’s comments in the days after their disclosure. Silver received quick praise Tuesday for his decision.

“Commissioner Silver showed great leadership in banning LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life,” Johnson, who is reportedly interested in buying the team, said on Twitter.

“I agree 100% with Commissioner Silvers findings and the actions taken against Donald Sterling,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said on Twitter.

Twenty-two of the league’s 30 owners would have to vote in favor of forcing a sale. Silver said he hadn’t polled the owners, but that “I spoke to several owners and I have their full support.” It remains unclear who will assume control of day-to-day operations of the team. Sterling purchased the Clippers for $12 million in 1981, and NBA franchise values are soaring: The small-market Milwaukee Bucks just sold for $550 million. A sale could also compel corporate sponsors that have abandoned the franchise, such as State Farm, Kia Motors, Red Bull, and Virgin America, to return.

Sterling has kept a low profile since His representatives have neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the recording. "Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings," the team said in a statement over the weekend. "It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life. He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them."

Silver was under intense pressure to take action. Star players around the league and other owners, including Michael Jordan of the Charlotte Bobcats and Paul Allen of the Portland Trail Blazers, had blasted Sterling, and President Barack Obama even weighed in while traveling in Asia over the weekend. “I have confidence that the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, a good man, will
address this,” Obama said from Malaysia.

 

And the Most Popular Disney Princess Is…

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 11:24 AM PDT

In the wonderful (capitalist) world of Disney, the best way to determine a princess’ popularity is by measuring how much money she makes. Here’s how the Disney princesses rank in terms of the amount they’ve earned on eBay since May 2013, according to sellers’ analytic tool Terapeak as reported by Jezebel:

1. Elsa (Frozen): $3,397,816

2. Cinderella (Cinderella): $2,504,259

3. Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs): $2,301,831

4. Anna (Frozen): $2,165,120

5. Ariel (The Little Mermaid): $1,483,384

6. Rapunzel (Tangled): $598,056

7. Aurora (Sleeping Beauty): $215,856

8. Merida (Brave): $282,188

9. Jasmine (Aladdin): $253,102

10. Tiana (The Princess and the Frog): $84,882

11. Belle (Beauty and the Beast): $6,867

It’s really no surprise that this year Elsa from Frozen is rolling in dough. Frozen became the number one animated film of all time March. The movie has topped $400 million at the domestic box office and $1 billion total.

Frozen toys were sold out everywhere at the beginning of March—four and a half months after the movie’s release. Limited-edition Anna and Elsa dolls go for as much as $1750 on eBay, and even the regular dolls were sold for hundreds of dollars (even though they retail at about $30 per doll), according to Jezebel.

What is surprising is that the top-selling doll is one who doesn’t end up with a prince at the end. Now that’s progress. In fact, Elsa and Merida are the only dolls even on the list who don’t have a love story.

But despite that victory, we still have a long way to go in our doll-purchasing habits. The blonde doll from Frozen unsurprisingly but sadly surpassed the brunette one. And the non-white princesses, Jasmine and Tiana, sat at the bottom of the list. (We’ll assume that Mulan didn’t make the cut because she’s not technically a princess, though she is a total badass.) Jasmine and Tiana only beat out Belle, the bookworm princess (who coincidentally was my favorite growing up as a bookworm myself).

WATCH: Weatherman Interrupts Live Broadcast to Evacuate Newsroom During Tornado

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 11:22 AM PDT

When a tornado touched down in his studio’s hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi, WTVA Chief Meteorologist Matt Laubhan stayed on his toes and led a newsroom evacuation in the middle of a live broadcast.

“This is a tornado ripping through the city of Tupelo as we speak, and this could be deadly,” Laubhan says in the clip. Then he points to an area off-camera and shouts, “Basement. Now.”

Shortly after the frantic newscast, the station tweeted, “We are safe here.”

Devastating storms have been ravaging the southern U.S. for the past three days. The violent weather has killed more than 30 people, destroyed homes and businesses and left thousands without power. Officials say 11 were killed in Mississippi on Monday alone.

With Status Quo On Its Side, Israel Happily Rejects Peace

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 11:16 AM PDT

During nine months of negotiations, Israeli officials have constantly questioned our ability to make peace. World leaders visiting Tel Aviv have been faced with rhetorical questions like "Shall we make peace with Gaza or the West Bank?" or statements like "Mahmoud Abbas does not represent all Palestinians." Last week, after we announced our national reconciliation agreement, Israel contradicted its own argument: suddenly peace was impossible due to Palestinian unity.

During the early 1980s, Israel's excuse was the Palestinian Liberation Organization's refusal to recognize Israel. In 1988, we recognized Israel on 78% of historical Palestine, a deeply difficult and historic concession. Twenty-six years later, the number of Israeli settlers within the remaining 22% has tripled. Next, Israel's excuse was lack of Arab recognition. In 2002, the Arab League introduced the Arab Peace Initiative, offering recognition from 57 Arab- and Muslim-majority countries in exchange for Israel's respect for UN resolutions. Israel's response? More settlements. Most recently, the Israeli government came up with a further qualification–that we should recognize Israel as a Jewish state, safe in the knowledge that this could not be accepted. Rather than being afraid of not being recognized, it seems Israel is afraid of recognition.

Today, Netanyahu and those representing him, including Lapid, Ya'alon, Lieberman, Bennett and Ariel, are creating a new excuse to avoid the necessary decisions for peace. This Israeli government, which continues its settlement activities all over Palestine, is trying to blame national reconciliation for its own failure to choose peace over apartheid.

MORE: Yair Lapid: Why I Voted in Favor of Suspending Peace Negotiations With the Palestinians

First and foremost, reconciliation is an internal affair. Not a single party in Netanyahu's government has recognized Palestine. Nor have we asked them to. Political parties do not recognize states. Governments do.

Secondly, reconciliation and negotiations are not mutually exclusive. Reconciliation is a mandatory step in order to reach a just and lasting peace. The agreement ratifies the PLO's legitimacy to negotiate with Israel, honors all Palestinian commitments and obligations towards international law and previous agreements and calls for the formation of a national consensus government comprising independent professionals. This government is not going to negotiate with Israel: its sole mandate will be to prepare for elections, provide services and build institutions.

Palestinian reconciliation can be rejected only by those who aim to perpetuate the status quo. This is precisely what the government of Israel has been doing during nine months of negotiations: killing 61 Palestinians, advancing more than 13,000 units in Israeli settlements, conducting almost 4,500 military operations on Palestinian land, demolishing 196 Palestinian homes and allowing more than 660 settler terror attacks against Palestinians.

Being consistent with its policies on the ground, Netanyahu's government has refused to recognize the 1967 border or even put a map on the table proposing Israel's idea of its final borders. Netanyahu has ensured that he is unable to do this by surrounding himself with the most extremist sectors in Israel, including the settler movement, from which he selected his foreign minister, housing minister and the Knesset speaker. In fact, 28 out of 68 members of his government reject the two-state solution entirely, while others "accept it with reservations," meaning something very different to two states as stipulated under international law. Israel's claim that negotiations have been halted due to Palestinian reconciliation is completely disingenuous.

Frankly, it is difficult to understand how anyone could expect us to negotiate with such a government. And yet we have, in good faith, offering concession after concession for the sake of peace. Once again, we have held up our end of the bargain. Once again, the Israeli government has not. The truth is simple: Israel refuses to negotiate sincerely because, as long as the status quo is so beneficial to it, Israel has no interest in a solution. Without firm signals from the international community, Netanyahu's occupation and colonization policies are incentivized.

With Palestine's new international status, we will continue shaping our country as a peace-loving nation that respects human rights and international law, a commitment already assumed during the announcement of national reconciliation. This includes our right to make use of international forums in order to end Israeli violations and achieve the fulfillment of our long overdue rights.

Meanwhile, the ruling coalition of Israel should stop wasting its energy on excuses and start realizing that apartheid is not a sustainable option. Israel's rejection of Palestinian national unity has little to do with Hamas and a lot to do with its own unwillingness to do what is needed for a just and lasting peace.

Dr. Saeb Erekat is a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee and Head of the Palestinian Negotiations Team.

Watch a Man Play Mario 64 While Blindfolded

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 11:00 AM PDT

The Nintendo 64 masterpiece Super Mario 64 was the bane of my youth. It was one of the first three-dimensional platforming video games, and beyond tricky jump sequences, the game also had hundreds of puzzles to solve. But what would make a hard game even harder? Playing it blindfolded.

That's exactly what the two guys of 62bitgaming attempted—and they succeeded. Last night the duo completed the game and beat Bowser. The player manning the controller covered his eyes with a standard-issue sleeping mask while the other shouted directions in his ear. Left! Right! Attack!

Beating Bowser (seen in the video here) while blind is a huge accomplishment, but the entire game is tough, from getting the first star to navigating the castle. Here's the entire game from start to finish, over six hours of groping.

What's next for the duo? Since it's in 3D and slower than its predecessors, Mario 64 might actually be one of the easier Mario games to beat blindfolded. Call us when you've finished the high-speed last levels of the original Mario Bros.

Man Arrested for Allegedly Killing Infant Daughter With Punch to Face

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 10:59 AM PDT

A Cincinnati man is in custody after allegedly killing his three-month-old daughter by punching her in the face.

Police say 24-year-old Shavale Johnson struck his daughter Asia Cathey "in a fit of frustration" Monday evening because she would not stop crying, Cincinatti.com reports. Sgt. Mike Miller said authorities are continuing to investigate the death.

Johnson is charged with endangering a child, but prosecutors say he will likely face more severe charges, including murder, once coroners determine how the child died. The baby was rushed to the hospital after her mother called 911 and was declared dead early Tuesday.

Police say Johnson confessed to punching the baby, but his sister Caress Johnson says her brother suffers from ADHD and "would say yes to anything."

Johnson was arrested last year for an assault charge that was later dropped.

[Cincinnati.com]

As Hated Airline Fees Spread, the Original Fee-Crazed Carrier Changes Course

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 10:35 AM PDT

Frontier Airlines is following the low-fare, fee-heavy “charge for everything” lead set by Spirit Airlines. Is it inevitable more airlines will do the same?

On Monday, Denver-based Frontier Airlines announced that it would start charging for carry-on bags, with a new fee structure calling for $20 to $50 per bag that passengers who’d like to enjoy the privilege of using the overhead bin. The new fee is part of a broader push to follow the ultra low-fare (and ultra profitable) model established by Spirit Airlines, which also charges for carry-on bags, among many, many other things.

“We are basically reducing the fare and then will charge for everything else the customer may want a la carte,” said Frontier CEO David Siegel, via the Denver Post. “We say Spirit is the dollar store and they aspire to be Walmart. We say we are Target, offering really good value for your money.”

It’s not just Frontier that likens Spirit Airlines to a dollar store. Spirit itself has embraced the “dollar store of the sky” as a nickname.

Another nickname adopted by Spirit has been the “Ryanair of the U.S.” Spirit executives have admitted they “flat-out copied” the fees and policies employed over the years by Ryanair, the largest low-fare carrier in Europe.

If there’s anything Ryanair is known for more than low fares, however, it’s the ruthless nickel-and-diming of its customers, combined with abrasive, headline-grabbing sound bites regularly offered to the media by CEO Michael O’Leary. This is a man who has threatened to install pay toilets on planes, and who called passengers “idiots” if they don’t take steps in advance to avoid Ryanair’s most egregious fees.

What’s scary to travelers who loathe the nasty, nickel-and-dime model is that this approach is clearly spreading. Ryanair was copied by Spirit, which in turn has been copied by carriers such as Allegiant Air (which added carry-on fees in 2012) and, now, Frontier Airlines. Meanwhile, it’s become standard across the industry to charge for basic “services” like ensuring you’ll be able to sit next to your child or spouse on the plane.

Is it inevitable that all airlines will continue down this path, so that we’ll all one day be flying on some “charge for everything” Spirit-Ryanair imitator? Maybe not.

In fact, even as more airlines seem to be using Ryanair as a model, Ryanair itself is desperately trying to combat its reputation for rip-offs and poor service. Ryanair’s O’Leary explained to the BBC in early April that it has been instituting a wide range of service improvements, including a supposedly quicker, easier-to-navigate website and more customer-friendly seat reservations and baggage policies and fees. The airline also recently started advertising on TV for the first time, with a series of commercials aimed at changing its image.

Surely, part of the motivation for Ryanair’s moves has been pushback from passengers. In a recent traveler survey, Ryanair didn’t even make it into the top five budget airlines serving the UK. Previously, Ryanair has been named by consumers as the worst brand in Europe across all industries, and participants in the survey described the airline’s service as “aggressive and hostile towards customers."

Like its forefather, Spirit Airlines is also routinely bashed by consumers. Last fall, a Consumer Reports study on U.S. airlines ranked Spirit dead last, and noted that Spirit doesn’t stand out merely as a bad airline. "Spirit Airlines received one of the lowest overall scores for any company we've ever rated," the report stated.

More recently, Spirit was named the “most complained about airline” in the world, displacing Ryanair as the year-in, year-out titleholder. The results of a poll at Airfare Watchdog also just indicated that Spirit has by far the rudest airline attendants in the U.S.

And this is the airline that many in the field are trying to imitate?

30-Second Tech Trick: Disable In-App Purchases on the iPhone or iPad

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 10:23 AM PDT

Noma’s Best Restaurant Win Tastes Pretty Sweet To Chef Rene Redzepi

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 10:20 AM PDT

As late as the afternoon of April 28, Rene Redzepi was warning his staff they would probably drop in the rankings of the World's 50 Best Restaurants, which were to be announced that evening, by making cryptic comments about Isaac Newton. "The rules for this competition were established over three hundred years ago," he said at lunch with his staff. "What goes up must come down."

But gravity, it seems, doesn't apply to restaurants. After losing the top ranking in 2013, his Copenhagen restaurant Noma last night regained the status it had held during the three years prior. When Redzepi and his team mounted the stage of London's Guildhall last night to claim the prize of best restaurant in the world, the joy was palpable. "It doesn't even compare," the 36-year-old chef said of his comeback, in an interview with TIME. "This is better than the three previous wins combined."

The victory gave Redzepi and his team a much-needed sense of redemption. But it also promised a return to the peculiar status and opportunities that come with being number one. Although the World's 50 Best list started twelve years ago as a lark—the founders of Restaurant magazine were, in one late-night brainstorming session, trying to come up with ways to attract attention to their publication—it has grown to become one of the most influential forces in modern gastronomy.

For the staff at Noma, returning to the top position has been especially rewarding after a difficult year. In February of 2013, the restaurant experienced an outbreak of norovirus that, although quickly controlled, prompted a deluge of gleeful reports in the media, as well as hate mail and death threats. Two months later, the restaurant lost its top ranking. And in the same period, its head chef and several sous chefs, all of whom had been with the restaurant for years, left to strike out on their own.

"For a while, it felt like there was only bad news out of Noma," Redzepi says.

But the hardships and criticism may have spurred the restaurant's crew to greater heights. For many chefs and critics who dined at Noma in the last year, it was their best meal ever at the restaurant. Their number includes David Chang, chef and owner of the Momofuku restaurants in New York, Toronto, and Sydney. "I knew right then that they were going to get number one again," he told TIME after dinner there in August. "You could taste the anger."

Unlike the Michelin guide, which relies on the assessment of professional inspectors to award its stars, the 50 Best list is decided by industry peers. Divided into 26 regional juries, more than 900 chefs, food writers, and gourmands vote for best restaurants in which they have dined over the previous 18 months. That structure makes the list particularly valuable to chefs, for it is flexible enough to respond quickly to changes in the dining scene (witness London's Clove Club, which opened exactly a year ago, enter at number 87 on the Top 100 list). But even more importantly, it provides a form of recognition from their peers that many chefs crave—and, once earned, want to maintain. "The list has become incredibly important to them," says Swedish food critic Mattias Kroon. "It's heroin for chefs."

There are also financial reasons for the addiction. At a breakfast the morning of the awards ceremony, Joan and Josep Roca, chef and sommelier of Spain's Celler de Can Roca, which won the title in 2013, talked about its impact. In the twelve months following their victory, they received 121,000 reservation requests, and more than 1200 journalists visited the restaurant to write stories about it. They received a sponsorship from Spain's BBVA bank that will allow them to close their restaurant in the Catalan city of Girona for a few months later this year, and re-open it as a pop-up in a series of Latin American cities.

Opportunities like that are beginning to bring around even France's chefs, who have typically disdained the list for its populism, and for rewarding trendiness rather than quality. (No French restaurants made this year's top 10, though Argentina-born Mauro Colagreco's restaurant Mirazur, on the French Mediterranean, came in at number 11.) "They still don't like it," says Alexandra Michot, a food writer who was until recently restaurant critic for Le Figaro. "But they're starting to see that a high-ranking fills seats." Further to the south, chef Quique Dacosta, whose eponymous restaurant in Denia, Spain came in at number 41, agrees. "You may or may not like everything about how the list works," he says. "But there's no denying how important it's become for getting diners, especially international ones."

In other words, the slight drop-off in reservation requests that Noma has experienced in the past few months has likely already been reversed by the time of this article's publication (the flood of visitors had already crashed the restaurant's website twice in the 12 hours after the announcement). And the victory will give added ballast to projects already underway, like the opening of a Noma pop-up in Tokyo in January and February of 2015 which, Redzepi believes, will now likely sell out.

Wielding its increasing clout, the organizers of this year's event refused to leak the results to journalists covering the event, which meant that, unlike in the past, neither they, nor the winning chefs they were seeking to interview on deadline, had any idea who would take the title. So Redzepi was truly surprised last night when, trembling with emotion, he led his crew to the stage. "Guys," he said, "We did it."

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