At Barak Obama's second inauguration yesterday, American Idol star Kelly Clarkson added a poignant chapter to the storied annals of America's least offensive patriotic anthem, My Country 'Tis of Thee. Seventy-four years ago, the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to let Marian Anderson perform at the association's Constitution Hall in Washington because the celebrated contralto was African-American. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned her DAR membership in protest, and weeks of controversy ensued. On April 9, 1939, 75,000 people turned out to hear Anderson sing at an outdoor Easter Sunday recital on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Interior Secretary...

Yesterday, White House press spokesman Jay Carney kiboshed the idea of minting a platinum trillion dollar coin to get around the Congressionally imposed debt ceiling that Republicans are using to ransom deep cuts in medicare and social security. Some economists have urged President Barack Obama to exploit a legal loophole that would allow the government to print a single $1,000,000,000,000 coin, and deposit it with the Federal Reserve Bank, thereby enabling the US Government to pay bills Congress has already authorized. MSNBC Host Chris Hays summed up the case for the coin this way: If this seems surreal or ridiculous or magical to...

Chasing Ice, a new film from director Jeff Orlowski, follows photographer James Balog's attempt to catalog the climate change-induced melting of the north polar icecap, using time lapse photography. This scene, the film's climax, shows the spectacular breakup of a Manhattan-sized chunk of ice from Greenland's Ilulissat Glacier. To appreciate the images, click the gear at the lower right edge of the film, and pick the highest resolution your monitor will support. Then view the clip full screen. The trailer for Chasing Ice is here. H/T: Melanie McGrath...

In response to last night's post about the surprising drugs-and-arms bust on Boularderie, John Percy, leader of the Green Party of Nova Scotia, writes: [T]he war on drugs...

The lineup at an early-voting polling station in Columbus, Ohio, one of two democratic strongholds in what is thought to be the most critical swing state in Tuesday's US Presidential election. (Vis L.A. Times reporter Michael Finnegan.)...

Shocking to realize how far we've come from will.i.am (with apologies to Gotye): [Video link] H/T: Stephen Puddicombe...

The Atlantic's Derek Thompson explains it in four terse sentences: Europe has Greece. We have Mississippi. Europe uses the term "permanent bailouts." We call it "Medicaid." And he illustrates the point with a map from the Economist: Thompson again: [T]he poorest states like Mississippi, New Mexico, and West Virginia rely on ginormous transfers of federal taxes in the form of unemployment benefits and Medicaid. Like the United States, the euro zone is all on one currency. Unlike the United States, the euro zone collects a teensy share of total taxes at the EU level and has no legacy of permanent fiscal transfers from the...

Every once in a while, between pleas from search engine optimizers, deposed African Generals, and cut-rate Viagra pushers, spam coughs up a gem. Like the 5,711-word message I just received from Father Yahweh, yea Jehovah, Most High God, aka Linda Newkirk of Little Rock, Arkansas. It began like this: It can now be reported that many of the wildfires in the western United States have been started by highly trained and well equipped foreign terrorists. It can also be reported that these terrorists are also responsible for the numerous explosions that occured in Michigan on the 6th and 7th of June...