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rural and city congressional representation, D vs R
It's been more than 22 years since Anita Hill sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee in that famous bright blue suit — one she could never bring herself to wear again — to make the sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas that transfixed a nation.

And much has changed since then.

But not everything.

"I hope you rot in hell," went an email that Hill, now 57 and a professor at Brandeis University, received just a few weeks ago from a member of the public.

After all this time?

"Yes," Hill says, with a resigned air. "As they go, this one was fairly mild. But it happens. And it'll happen again."

WSJ (subscription):
The owner of the nicest restaurant in town doesn't serve alcohol, worried that his pastor would be disappointed if he did. Public schools try to avoid scheduling events on Wednesday evenings, when churches hold Bible study. And Democrats here are a rare and lonely breed.

Older, nearly 100% white and overwhelmingly Republican, El Dorado Springs is typical of what is now small-town America. Coffee costs 90 cents at the diner, with free refills. Two hours north and a world away in Kansas City, Starbucks charges twice that, and voters routinely elect Democrats.

There have always been differences between rural and urban America, but they have grown vast and deep, and now are an underappreciated factor in dividing the U.S. political system, say politicians and academicians.

More politics and policy below the fold.

Phil Plait with even more explanation on the bang part of the Big Bang:

This news is very important and very interesting. However, it’s also very esoteric—probably the most layered and complex announcement I’ve ever written about. It’s not like the Higgs boson, which could at least be summed up in a sentence or two. But this new work unveils a critical point in the history of the Universe and has profound implications for physics.

I’ll note that in preparation for this announcement, Sky and Telescope put up a nice overview, as did the Guardian. My friend, the cosmologist Sean Carroll, has a fantastic writeup about it. It starts off semi-technical and becomes very technical in the second half, so be ye fairly warned, says I. He has a follow-up post with more details as well.

So what’s going on?

Economic Policy Institute:
The average low-wage worker who would benefit from a minimum-wage increase is responsible for half (50 percent) of his or her family’s income (ranging from 33 percent in New Hampshire to 60 percent in Louisiana). Nationally, nearly one in five children (19 percent) has a parent who would be affected by raising the minimum wage to $10.10 (ranging from 11 percent in Alaska to 26 percent in Texas). While some minimum-wage earners are young workers looking for some spending money, the majority are adults working to put food on their families’ tables.
Greg Sargent:
This is exactly the case Dems are making against the AFP’s attacks. The real purpose of the Dem strategy is to create a framework for a broader argument about the true goals and priorities of the actual GOP policy agenda. It’s about tapping into a sense that the economy is rigged against ordinary Americans, and in favor of the one percent, and dramatizing that the GOP’s economic agenda would preserve that status quo, blocking any government policies designed to address stagnant mobility and soaring inequality. Or that, as Jonathan Chait puts it, the GOP has “built a policy agenda around plutocracy,” and its primary ”organizing purpose is to safeguard the economic interests of the very rich.”

Dems are also trying to draw attention to local examples of Koch activism or financial interests in particular states, where they have immediacy for voters, all of which Brian Beutler details right here.

Nate Silver:
A Gallup poll on Hillary Clinton released Friday is triggering some of these challenges of interpretation. It asked an open-ended question about what Americans would regard as the best and worst qualities of a Clinton presidency. The top negative, mentioned by 6 percent of respondents, was that Clinton was not qualified to be president or wasn’t likely to succeed on the job.

This poll could easily be misread. Clinton’s qualifications were her most oft-mentioned negative — but they were cited by just 6 percent of respondents. Nor, however, should the results be taken to imply that 94 percent of respondents see Clinton as qualified. Many of the respondents who described other negatives about Clinton undoubtedly also think she lacks the credentials for the job. (Gallup recorded only one reply per person.)

A better way to test voters’ opinions on Clinton’s qualifications is to ask them directly. YouGov did that in a poll released last month. In that survey, 49 percent of respondents said Clinton had the qualifications to be president while 38 percent said she did not.

Whatever the controversies around 538, Nate still reads polls better than most.

Joanne Kenen:

Here’s a fun – and helpful – site for tracking enrollment and trying to get a sense of where it’s heading.

Charles Gaba – aka the ACASignups guy – runs a great website called, of course, He isn’t doing the doing the elaborate modeling and forecasting of Nate Silver during campaigns – and he isn’t really comfortable with the comparisons. But it’s still the closest thing we have to a state-by-state real-time Affordable Care Act enrollment tracker.

Here’s the graph, which is part of the site but not the whole site. Here’s his nine-state track of how many people who signed up in an exchange plan have paid their premium – about 81 percent, though it’s not a full national picture.

And here's Joanne and Charles on radio.

Robert Pearl, MD:

There is nothing more disheartening for a physician than watching a patient die from a preventable cause. And, of course, the loss for the family involved is unimaginable.

But it’s important, especially for parents, to understand the potential consequences of preventable, infectious diseases.

Here’s a scenario doctors across the country are witnessing first-hand: A 2-year-old girl develops what seems like a cold. Over the next several days, her breathing rate increases. At times, she stops breathing altogether for several seconds, followed by severe coughing spells and terrifying whooping sounds as she struggles to get air into her lungs. In spite of the best medical care, she experiences an uncomfortable and tragic death.

A century ago, this experience was common. Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, terrified parents and cost children around the world their lives.

Today, there are safe and effective vaccines to prevent these types of diseases in the first place. Yet a growing number of parents choose not to vaccinate their children, resulting in long-term disability and unnecessary deaths.

Measles outbreak! Vaccine trutherism now officially a public health crisis
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