Yes, Hillary, there really is a Hispanic voter surge

❝ Hispanic voters were largely credited with President Obama’s victory in 2012, but they weren’t as crucial as many believed. Mr. Obama didn’t even need to win the Hispanic vote to put him over the top, thanks to high black turnout and support among white voters in the North. The turnout among Hispanic voters didn’t surge, even though exit polls implied that it had.

This year, Hispanic voters, perhaps motivated by Donald J. Trump’s policy proposals (including deportation) and harsh language aimed at undocumented Hispanic immigrants, really might decide this election.

❝ Early voting data unequivocally indicates that Hillary Clinton will benefit from a long awaited surge in Hispanic turnout, vastly exceeding the Hispanic turnout from four years ago.

It’s too soon to say whether it will be decisive for her. The geographic distribution of Hispanic voters means that many of her gains will help her in noncompetitive states like Texas and California, not Michigan and Pennsylvania.

But the surge is real, and it’s big. It could be enough to overcome Mr. Trump’s strength among white-working class voters in the swing states of Florida and Nevada. If it does, it will almost certainly win her the election…

Lots of details for electoral politics wonks. When you live in a state where Hispanic ethnicity wavers forth-and-back over the 50% boundary you accept that issue-specific voting takes place. That’s fine. Here in northern New Mexico at least the memory of days when Democrats had the backbone for class warfare still counts at election time.

So does voter turnout. Not so unusual to see 50% turnout in primaries. At least Democrat primaries, here. Presidential elections often turn out 60-70% of registered voters. Better than average US numbers.

Milestone: UK’s red telephone boxes to be replaced with wi-fi kiosks

❝ Many of the UK’s iconic red telephone booths may not be around for much longer. Starting next year, BT will start replacing London telephone booths with WiFi terminals. These sidewalk kiosks will allow people to charge their phones and access high-speed wireless internet for free. Intersection, the company behind the LinkNYC WiFi kiosks, is collaborating with BT and Primesight, a UK outdoor advertising company.

❝ Learning from the experience with New York’s terminals, BT has opted not to make it possible for users to browse the internet on the kiosk itself. After complaints that people were monopolizing the New York kiosks for long periods of time, whether listening to music or viewing pornography, the browsing feature was disabled…

❝ In addition to WiFi and charging capability, the kiosks will provide users with local maps and services, directions, and free phone calls. The devices will be funded by advertising revenue from the digital displays. 100 of the kiosks are expected to be installed next year, with 750 planned for the next few years.

Nostalgia freaks will snap up the old red boxes in a London minute. Cripes, I’d get one if I thought they might ever be affordable.

I spent a fair piece of time in the Highlands & Islands of Scotland in or near villages where one of those boxes was the only landline to the world outside.

Not always a bad thing.

How brown rats made it from Mongolia to New York City subway tunnels

❝ City dwellers’ favorite scruffy friend, the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus), causes $19 billion dollars in damages around the world every year. Yet for an animal that is responsible for so much havoc, we know surprisingly little about it. Including how it came to own the globe (we just think we’re in control). So a team of researchers from Fordham University conducted the first ever large-scale genomic study of the brown rat, and created a rough map of the routes the rodent immigrant took to every continent except Antarctica. It was published this week in the Royal Society’s journal Proceedings B.

❝ The brown rat and its smaller cousins, the black rat (Rattus rattus), and the house mouse (Mus musculus), are the three most successful invasive mammals on Earth. (Coincidentally, they also have the best scientific names.) But whereas the black rat and house mouse have followed human agricultural expansion for millennia, the brown rat didn’t venture out of its native China and Mongolia until hundreds of years ago, riding the waves of global trade to every corner.

❝ For the past three years, researchers of the Munshi-South Lab at Fordham University collected tissue samples from 314 rats across 76 different locations from around the world. Some rats were field-trapped, some were from museums, and some were picked up at wildlife markets. Their genomic analysis of the samples, led by ecologist Emily Puckett, unveiled a story of brown rat migration that followed five major routes out of East Asia.

One wave cautiously sniffed its way down to Southeast Asia. Another traveled along the Silk Road across Central Asia and into Europe. It established itself there by about 1500. The Europeans probably didn’t expect to get a new rat in their trade deals.

Two more groups crossed the Pacific into Western North America: one island-hopped with Russian ships through Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, the other made its way across the vast expanse of ocean straight to the West Coast, also by ship.

And finally, the group that settled into Europe exploded out to Eastern North America, South America, Africa and Australasia with the spread of colonial powers. Unwanted guests brought more unwanted guests.

We did it to ourselves, so to speak.

A meaningless phrase presuming the small number of imperial barons of theft and trade somehow consulted the rest of the population before the colonial onslaught. The folks at the root of the process were – and are – those who live by profits before people.

Save the day

It was a big deal in the neighborhood where I grew up – to be a second generation American. My mom and dad, all their brothers and sisters, were the first generation in their respective families to be born in the USA.

It’s a shame how many Americans have forgotten what a good feeling that was. How it was available to all.

Police chiefs apologize for historical mistreatment of minorities

❝ The president of America’s largest police management organization on Monday issued a formal apology to the nation’s minority population “for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.”

❝ Terrence M. Cunningham, the chief of police in Wellesley, Mass., delivered his remarks at the convention in San Diego of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, whose membership includes 23,000 police officials in the United States. The statement was issued on behalf of the IACP, and comes as police executives continue to grapple with tense relationships between officers and minority groups in the wake of high-profile civilian deaths in New York, South Carolina, Minnesota and elsewhere, the sometimes violent citizen protests which have ensued as well as the ambush killings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

…Cunningham’s comments are an acknowledgement of police departments’ past role in exacerbating tensions and a way to move forward and improve community relations nationwide. Two top civil rights groups on Monday commended Cunningham for taking an important first step in acknowledging the problem.


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❝ “…If we are brave enough to collectively deliver this message, we will build a better and safer future for our communities and our law enforcement officers. Too many lives have been lost already, and this must end. It is my hope that many other law enforcement executives will deliver this same message to their local communities, particularly those segments of their communities that lack trust and feel disenfranchised.”

The IACP members present for Cunningham’s speech gave him a standing ovation, IACP spokeswoman Sarah Guy said. Cunningham made the remarks on behalf of the membership…

Overdue. Justly applauded.

San Francisco Noir: Photos from the ’40s and ’50s by Fred Lyons


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Fred Lyon is 92 years old and has photographed his hometown, San Francisco, for more than 70 years. His rich black-and-white scenes conjure a bygone era, when flash powder still existed, being alone with your thoughts was common, and the famed cable cars were public transportation for locals, rather than rolling tourist traps headed to Fisherman’s Wharf.

A large selection of these amazing photographs, so incongruous with today’s lifestyle, is being exhibited at the Leica Gallery in San Francisco through Oct. 21, and collectively they do the city’s history proud…

San Francisco, too, has undergone a reinvention lately, with the much-publicized arrival of residents and money from nearby Silicon Valley. But with a longer-term perspective than most of us have, Fred Lyon is not concerned for the future of his beloved city, saying “every city that’s really alive has to keep changing.”…

“What I really miss is the kids playing in the street,” he said. “That was a constant source of joy for me. I don’t know where they’ve gone. Their parents don’t allow them out. It just doesn’t happen. The kids were always great. They’d laugh at this silly guy with the camera, and know I really wanted to get in their games with them. And indeed I did.”

Lovely, talented work. If you’re in the northern Cali chunk of the Left Coast, get your butt to town to see Fred Lyon’s work.

U.S. coal production down 26% – first half of 2016


Just showing how up-to-date coal-based energy really is

Coal production fell in the first half of 2016 dropped 26% from the same period of 2015 on widespread output curtailments especially in the massive Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana…

This output drop has been foreshadowed by the idling of dozens of coal mines across the U.S. in the first half of this year.

In terms of overall drop in production half year-over-half year, the Powder River Basin was the hardest hit, dropping about a third from 199.2 million tons produced in the first half of 2015 to only 134.2 million tons in the first half of this year. That 65 million ton drop represents more coal than that actually produced in the first half of 2016 in any of the three other major producing regions: Illinois Basin, Central Appalachia and Northern Appalachia.

Look elsewhere for jobs, folks. Learn to do better with your life.

4-foot-long Titanosaur footprints found in the Gobi desert


Professor Shinobu Ishigaki lies next to the footprintAFP/Getty Images

One of the largest ever dinosaur footprints has been found by a joint expedition of Japanese and Mongolian researchers in the Gobi desert.

The giant print measures 106cm (42in) long and 77cm (30in) wide, according to AFP. It is thought to have belonged to a titanosaur, a group of giant, long-necked herbivores. Researchers said the creature may have been more than 30 meters (98ft) long and 20 meters (66ft) tall.

The print was discovered in August in a geologic layer formed between 70 million and 90 million years ago by researchers from Okayama University of Science and the Mongolian Academy of Science…

The print is a cast from sand that flowed into dents left by the creature’s enormous footprint. Its discovery could help scientists understand how titanosaurs walked.

In 2014, a titanosaur skeleton was discovered in Argentina and was dubbed the largest dinosaur ever discovered. A replica of the dinosaur, which has yet to be named, is currently on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It weighed about 70 tons and its skeleton is 37 meters (122ft) long.

I would love to be convinced of the possibility of viewing prehistoric times via some sort of time warp. Scientists would line up for primary source accuracy.