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Win a scholarship to Netroots Nation

I love Netroots Nation. It’s hard to be depressed when you’re around so many bright, passionate people who are working so hard to make our country better, and it’s always fun to meet people face to face when you only know their online personas. So I’m happy to tell you about this great opportunity to win a NN scholarship:

Want an opportunity to win a scholarship for Netroots Nation 2012, the country’s biggest gathering of progressive activists?

Netroots Nation is teaming up with Rally.org for the first-ever Raise the Future contest, which invites people from around the country to fundraise for progressive causes for the chance to win an all-access pass to Netroots Nation this June in Providence. Ten winners will receive an all-access pass to the conference, hotel accommodations and invitations to VIP events (a $1200 value).

Sign up at rally.org/raisethefuture.

It’s easy to participate: just recruit the most donors for one of the six featured causes—or choose one of your own—using the Rally.org fundraising platform. This contest is unique because it’s not about how much money you raise, but the number of donors you engage.

The featured causes include Elizabeth Warren for Massachusetts, National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Washington United for Marriage, Truman National Security Project and New Leaders Council.

There’s still plenty of time to sign up (and win!). The contest runs through May 15, with finalists announced May 17th.

It takes less than four minutes to get started. Sign up at rally.org/raisethefuture.


Somehow or other, I stumble across a large house full of artsy hippies who are putting on various performances, all at the same time. Literally, right next to each other. They’re singing, playing music, performing street theater, etc. and there’s also a sumptuous spread of food. The hippies are all wearing outrageous and colorful costumes. “So all this was here, all this time, and I didn’t even know it?” I ask one. “Every Sunday,” he replied.

An old woman was in some kind of distress, so we all rushed over and helped her. Then everyone went right back to what they were doing.

Who could have guessed

What a surprise. File this one under the Department of Duh, because anyone who’s been following the history of Taser use (524 Taser-related deaths so far) has figured out there can’t be that much smoke without some fire.

The electrical shock delivered to the chest by a Taser can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death, according to a new study, although it is unknown how frequently such deaths occur.

The study, which analyzed detailed records from the cases of eight people who went into cardiac arrest after receiving shocks from a Taser X26 fired at a distance, is likely to add to the debate about the safety of the weapons. Seven of the people in the study died; one survived.

Advocacy groups like Amnesty International have argued that Tasers, the most widely used of a class of weapons known as electrical control devices, are potentially lethal and that stricter rules should govern their use.But proponents maintain that the devices — which are used by more than 16,700 law enforcement agencies in 107 countries, said Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Taser — pose less risk to civilians than firearms and are safer for police officers than physically tackling a suspect.

The results of studies of the devices’ safety in humans have been mixed.

Medical experts said on Monday that the new report, published online on Monday in the journal Circulation, makes clear that electrical shocks from Tasers, which shoot barbs into the clothes and skin, can in some cases set off irregular heart rhythms, leading to cardiac arrest.

“This is no longer arguable,” said Dr. Byron Lee, a cardiologist and director of the electrophysiology laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco. “This is a scientific fact. The national debate should now center on whether the risk of sudden death with Tasers is low enough to warrant widespread use by law enforcement.”

The author of the study, Dr. Douglas P. Zipes, a cardiologist and professor emeritus at Indiana University, has served as a witness for plaintiffs in lawsuits against Taser — a fact that Mr. Tuttle said tainted the findings. “Clearly, Dr. Zipes has a strong financial bias based on his career as an expert witness,” Mr. Tuttle said in an e-mail, adding that a 2011 ificant risk of cardiac arrest “when deployed reasonably.”

However, Dr. Robert J. Myerburg, a professor of medicine in cardiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that Dr. Zipes’s role in litigation also gave him extensive access to data from medical records, police records and autopsy reports. The study, he said, had persuaded him that in at least some of the eight cases, the Taser shock was responsible for the cardiac arrests.

There are a lot of problems with Tasers that Taser International would rather we didn’t talk about. One of them is that the voltage can go a lot higher than the manufacturer says it can. Then there’s that interesting habit the company has of suing medical examiners who list Tasers as the cause of death – or otherwise persuading them.

They don’t spend much money on lobbying, so I guess the legal threats do the trick.

What a dud looks like

Reuters reported May Day was a “dud.” No, it wasn’t:

Our day will come

Ruby and the Romantics:

Pumped-up kicks

Foster the People:

Someday someway

Marshall Crenshaw live on Letterman:

Occupy NYC

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Planned Parenthood ruling snuffed

Just hours ago we reported that a Texas judge yesterday issued a preliminary injunction preventing cutoff of women’s health funds to Planned Parenthood. But hey, this is Texas we’re talking about. Today another judge, this one an outspoken Barack Obama foe, weighed in. Here’s what happens when a yahoo judge doesn’t even pretend to be nonpartisan:

Last month, Republican Fifth Circuit Judge Jerry Smith pitched a tantrum in open court, demanding that the Department of Justice respond to some imprecise political rhetoric by President Obama in an attempt to embarrass the president. Today, the staunch Republican judge raised further doubt about his ability to separate politics from the law by suspending a decision benefiting Planned Parenthood just hours after it was handed down by [Judge Lee Yeakel]…

Several things are significant about this very brief order. First, Judge Smith is a court of appeals judge, and it is very rare for an appeals judge to act alone in this way. Federal appeals courts almost always act as three judge panels, and for very good reason. Judge Yeakel is no less a federal judge than Judge Smith, and he is no less competent that Smith to interpret the Constitution. A court of appeals’ legitimacy generally flows from the fact that it brings more minds to a legal question than a trial court — but this cannot happen when a single judge acts alone…

… More importantly, it’s unlikely that Smith gave his order much thought at all before handing it down. Judge Yeakel handed down his order weeks after this case was filed, and he produced a 24 page explanation of why it was justified. Smith spent, at most, a few hours — and he offered no explanation whatsoever.

Occupy Chicago

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