Blogs

Netflix Just Released the Trailer for Tina Fey's New Sitcom and It Looks Incredible

| Thu Jan. 22, 2015 6:18 PM EST

Welcome to your new favorite thing. Finally, a glimpse of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt—the latest from Tina Fey and the team behind 30 Rock—which comes to Netflix on March 6. Reminiscent of the recent rash of reality TV shows like Breaking the Faith and Breaking Amish, the comedy series starring Ellie Kemper (The Office, Bridesmaids) follows a peppy former doomsday cult victim as she tries to make a new life in New York City, having been rescued from an Indiana bunker. Hilarity ensues. Alongside Kemper, it's a joy to see former 30 Rock stars Jane Krakowski and Tituss Burgess.

The first sitcom for Fey since 30 Rock was originally developed to air on NBC (co-written by NBC show-runner Robert Carlock), but it was bought up by Netflix last November. At a recent press conference for TV critics, Fey joked that the lack of network restrictions on streaming platforms was creatively liberating: "I think season two's gonna mostly be shower sex," she said, according to NPR.

For someone who has made network TV her career, the shift to streaming is a big move for Fey. But she told critics that the basics of any television series still apply on Netflix: "People still have that communal feeling when the next season of Orange is the New Black goes up. And they do want to talk about it, they do want to email about it and they do want to talk about it at work. So you still have the communal feeling of, like, 'Oh we want to see this and talk about it right now.'"

The only catch? "Its just not literally at that specific hour of the night."

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Listen to Tom Brady Talk About His Deflated Balls...and ISIS

| Thu Jan. 22, 2015 5:17 PM EST

Tom Brady would like you to know that he is innocent...also, "this isn't ISIS."

Here is a video, courtesy of our friends across the aisle at National Review.

Also, here is a Vine of just the ISIS part.

Sports!

One Perfect Tweet Sums Up Why Climate Denial in Congress Is So Dangerous

| Thu Jan. 22, 2015 4:13 PM EST

Here's the good news: Yesterday the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of an amendment to the Keystone XL bill that says "climate change is real and not a hoax." Good work, ladies and gentlemen! Glad we got that on the record, only 25 years after scientists agreed on it.

Here's the bad news: Turns out the vote was just an excuse for James Inhofe (Okla.) to say, as he has many times before: Sure, climate change is real. The climate changes all the time. But humans aren't the cause.

His evidence for this dismissal of the mainstream scientific consensus? The bible.

Oy vey.

Now here's the really bad news: This same gentleman from Oklahoma recently became the chairman of the very Senate committee that oversees environmental policy. And two of his climate change-denying peers will chair other subcommittees that oversee vital climate science.

In case it isn't self-evident why these facts are so terrible, we have our lovely readers to sum it up:

Thanks, Sharon Dennis!

Terrifying Video Shows Black Man "With His Hands Raised" Shot To Death By New Jersey Cop

| Thu Jan. 22, 2015 11:44 AM EST

A newly released dashcam recording shows a New Jersey police officer fatally shooting a black man whose hands were raised in the air.

The fatal encounter stems from a routine traffic stop on December 30, in which Bridgeton officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley pulled over a vehicle for running through a stop sign. 

While questioning the two men, Leroy Tutt and Jerame Reid, the video shows Days suddenly shouting to his partner, "We've got a gun in his glove compartment!"

"Show me your fucking hands," Days, who appears to recognize Reid as he his heard calling him by his first name, warns. "He's reaching for something!"  

As the situation intensifies, Reid can be heard telling the officers, "I'm not reaching for nothing. I ain't got no reason to reach for nothing." He then tells Days, "I'm getting out and getting on the ground."

Reid gets up and exits the car with his hands raised. Then the two officers fire at least six shots, killing Reid.

"The video speaks for itself that at no point was Jerame Reid a threat and he possessed no weapon on his person," Walter Hudson of the civil rights group National Awareness Alliance said Wednesday.

According to records, Reid was in prison for 13 years for shooting at a state trooper when he was a teenager. 

On Tuesday, the Bridgeton Police Department expressed its disappointment over the video's release "out of respect for the family." An investigation into the fatal shooting is being conducted. 

The recording comes amid reports the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown will be cleared of federal civil rights charges. The August shooting sparked massive protests around the country with the chant, "Hands up, don't shoot" serving as a symbolic call for justice in Brown's death. 

 

Yet More Housekeeping

| Thu Jan. 22, 2015 10:36 AM EST

I have returned to the land of the living. The last 36 hours have been pretty hellish, but the good news is that I think I know what happened, and it's not likely to happen again. I hope.

That said, I'm still pretty tired. We'll see how the rest of the day goes.

Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack? The Answer May Lie in Your Twitter Stream

| Thu Jan. 22, 2015 6:00 AM EST

Of the many illnesses that plague Americans, heart disease is the deadliest—and one of the toughest to predict. Epidemiologists have long used surveys and clinical data to tease out genetic factors from lifestyle risks such as diet, smoking, and stress, with little success. But a new study shows that there might be a better tool to assess heart disease: Twitter.

A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Psychological Science analyzed tweets and health data from 1,300 counties across the United States. The researchers found that negative tweets—those expressing fatigue, hostility, and stress—were associated with elevated risk of coronary heart disease (the medical term for clogged arteries) in the counties where the writers of those tweets lived. High volumes of tweets expressing optimism, excitement, ambition, and activity, meanwhile, correlated with lower than average rates of heart disease.

Here are some word clouds with examples of language that predicted higher and lower levels of disease:

Psychological Science

What's more, the researchers found that the language used in tweets correlates much more closely with heart disease rates than traditional predictive factors such as your income and education level, your weight, and even whether you are a smoker:

Psychological Science

Lead author Johannes Eichstaedt, a psychological scientist at University of Pennsylvania, described Twitter as "the perfect tool for figuring out something like heart disease." Researchers have long suspected connections between emotional states and heart disease risk. And while it's not surprising that people with high levels of stress and anger would be at higher risk than their mellower, happier peers, researchers have traditionally relied on surveys to evaluate people's psychological well being. The problem is that survey-based studies can take years, and people aren't always honest about their feelings. Which makes Twitter a researcher's treasure trove. "Twitter is where people talk about themselves, where they express their emotions candidly," Eichstaedt says.

Here's a map showing coronary heart disease deaths by county, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Psychological Science, CDC

Now compare it with this map, which predicts rates of heart disease based on tweet language:

Psychological Science, Twitter

Another bonus of using Twitter as an epidemiological tool: It's much easier and cheaper than going door to door or calling people to conduct surveys. "If I wanted to repeat this analysis I could do it in an afternoon," says Eichstaedt. "With surveys, that would take a year."

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Watch Molly Redden on the GOP Women Protesting the 20-Week Abortion Ban

Thu Jan. 22, 2015 12:12 AM EST

Mother Jones reporter Molly Redden appeared on MSNBC's Last Word Wednesday night to discuss why Republican women are revolting against the 20-week abortion ban.

Federal Prosecutors Set to Clear Ferguson Cop Who Shot Michael Brown

| Wed Jan. 21, 2015 4:49 PM EST

The Department of Justice is reportedly preparing to clear Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown last August, of civil rights charges. According to the New York Times, which broke the news Wednesday afternoon, federal prosecutors are in the process of finalizing a legal memo recommending no charges be made against Wilson. The Times notes, however, a final decision has yet to be officially announced. 

A broader federal investigation into possible civil rights violations by the Ferguson Police Department continues. 

The report follows November's decision by a grand jury declining to indict the officer in Brown's death. Brown was 18-years-old and unarmed at the time of the shooting. From the Times:

Three law enforcement officials discussed the details of the federal investigation on condition of anonymity because the report was incomplete and Mr. Holder and his top civil rights prosecutor, Vanita Gupta, had not formally made a decision. Dena Iverson, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Benjamin L. Crump, a lawyer for Mr. Brown's family, said he did not want to comment on the investigation until the Justice Department made an official announcement. "We've heard speculation on cases before that didn't turn out to be true," Mr. Crump said. "It's too much to put the family through to respond to every rumor." Mr. Crump said that at the end of last year that the Justice Department had told him that it was still investigating.

The lawyer for Mr. Wilson did not return calls for comment.

The shooting prompted massive demonstrations across the country with protestors demanding charges be brought against Wilson. 

This is a developing story.

Why Ruth Bader Ginsburg Thinks Citizens United Is the Supreme Court's Worst Ruling

Wed Jan. 21, 2015 4:45 PM EST

This story originally appeared at BillMoyers.com.

In an interview with the New Republic, 81-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that the current Court's worst ruling — and the one she would most like to overrule—was Citizens United.

That decision is the one responsible, in large part, for making this midterm election a record breaker in terms of outside spending. And that's before the really heavy spending comes into play, in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

The 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision struck down the limits on how much money corporations and unions can spend in federal elections. Ginsburg, who dissented in the case, explains here why Citizens United is top of her list and tackles the two runners-up.

I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be. So that's number one on my list. Number two would be the part of the health care decision that concerns the commerce clause. Since 1937, the Court has allowed Congress a very free hand in enacting social and economic legislation. I thought that the attempt of the Court to intrude on Congress's domain in that area had stopped by the end of the 1930s. Of course health care involves commerce. Perhaps number three would be Shelby County, involving essentially the destruction of the Voting Rights Act. That act had a voluminous legislative history. The bill extending the Voting Rights Act was passed overwhelmingly by both houses, Republicans and Democrats, everyone was on board. The Court's interference with that decision of the political branches seemed to me out of order. The Court should have respected the legislative judgment. Legislators know much more about elections than the Court does. And the same was true of Citizens United. I think members of the legislature, people who have to run for office, know the connection between money and influence on what laws get passed.

In her wide-ranging interview, she goes on to discuss her concerns for women's reproductive rights, why she's not going to step down, despite some calls from the left for her to do so, her scathing dissent on the Hobby Lobby ruling and life as "Notorious R.B.G."

Read the full interview at The New Republic.

Housekeeping Update

| Wed Jan. 21, 2015 11:43 AM EST

No blogging today. Sorry. Lots of stuff going on with my body right now. But I should recover eventually.