Only in America

What does the dissenting mail look like, when I publish an item like this one, arguing that Mitch McConnell illustrates the pious hypocrisy of those who are “deeply saddened” by gun massacres but obstruct efforts to prevent them, or round-ups of reader responses like this? Here is a representative sample. Draconian controls. I said in my McConnell item that the NRA had successfully equated any proposed control on gun use and ownership with total control. (We recognize that DUI laws and liability-insurance requirements don’t amount to confiscation of your car, but that distinction disappears when we’re talking about guns.) One dissenting note illustrates this outlook: Sorry, but I’m guessing you’ll… Read More

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The Last Continent: Microfibres invade even these pristine waters

Postmedia columnist Daphne Bramham crosses the notoriously rough Drake Passage from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia — known as the Serengeti of the Southern Ocean — to Antarctica. Her daily reports from the 18-day expedition cover issues from climate change and micro plastics in the ocean to Japan’s continuing whale hunt, the antics of penguins and the world’s wild race to tour, and exploit, this last frontier. In the ocean’s rich subsurface layer where many marine creatures feed, invisible plastic fibres spin and churn along with the currents. Neutrally buoyant, these microfibres neither rise nor fall. Even if they do drop to the bottom — perhaps because they get… Read More

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The Mystery Behind Frederick Douglass’s Birthday

A wealth of details were recorded about the day Frederick Douglass died as a free man in Washington, D.C. It was February 20, 1895. Douglass’s movements in the hours before his death were laid out in the New York Times obituary published the following day: He spent the morning at the Congressional library, then traveled to Metzerott Hall for sessions of the National Council of Women of the United States, staying through the afternoon; in the early evening he returned home, had dinner with his wife, and was standing and talking to her about the Women’s Council when, suddenly, he had a heart attack and “dropped dead in the hallway”… Read More

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The Fuzzy Math of Funding Iraq’s Reconstruction

At first glance, a conference on Iraq that raised $30 billion this week may look like a success. But compared to the estimated $88 billion the Iraqi government said was needed to rebuild the country after the devastation wrought by ISIS and U.S.-led airstrikes, the amount sounds paltry. And like most things involving Iraq, its neighbors, and reconstruction, the true picture is far more complicated. “If we compare what we got today to what we need, it is no secret, it is of course much lower than what Iraq needs,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said in Kuwait, where the conference was organized. “But we know that we will not… Read More

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Mormon missionaries safe in Mexico after major earthquake

SALT LAKE CITY — All Mormon missionaries serving in Mexico are safe after a major earthquake struck that nation on Friday, according to Daniel Woodruff, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the state of Oaxaca near the town of Pinotepa Nacional at 5:39 p.m. local time, according to the New York Times, which means the LDS missions most affected were the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission and the Mexico Oaxaca Mission. A magnitude-5.8 aftershock followed the initial shock nearly an hour later. There were no reports of deaths or injuries, but the tremors that left tall buildings swaying for minutes stoked memories of a… Read More

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Magnitude-7.2 earthquake slams south, central Mexico

MEXICO CITY — A powerful earthquake shook south and central Mexico Friday, causing people to flee buildings and office towers in the country’s capital, and setting off quake alert systems. Crowds of people gathered on central Reforma Avenue in Mexico City as the ground shook. The U.S. Geological Survey put the quake’s preliminary magnitude at 7.2 and said its epicenter was 33 miles (53 kilometers) northeast of Pinotepa in Oaxaca state. It had a depth of 15 miles (24 kilometers). The epicenter is a rural area of western Oaxaca state near the Pacific coast and the border with Guerrero state. The Oaxaca state civil protection agency said via Twitter that… Read More

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Fiery crash closes freeway in SoCal, at least 4 dead

Associated Press RIALTO — Police say a tractor-trailer plowed through the center divider of a Southern California freeway and rammed head-on into traffic. At least four people were killed in the fiery crash. California Highway Patrol Officer Brian Alvarez says a drilling or cement pumping truck was heading west on Interstate 10 in Rialto when it plowed into oncoming traffic. At least four other cars and trucks were involved in the resulting crash. TV reports showed the big-rig sprawled on its side near a box truck. Two burned, crushed cars were under the smaller truck. The cause of the crash is under investigation. The freeway has been closed and traffic… Read More

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Trump to visit Florida, likely meeting survivors, parents

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Friday he’s traveling to Florida “to meet with some of the bravest people on earth.” He was expected to thank first responders to the horrific high school shooting and may come face-to-face with parents, survivors and others, some of whom have angrily called for firm action to prevent future assaults. Trump tweeted that he will meet with people “whose lives have been totally shattered,” but did not elaborate on his plans. White House officials have not said when he would meet with those affected by the tragedy or whether he would travel to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. He had already been… Read More

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Under fire, Kelly overhauls White House clearance procedure

WASHINGTON — Chief of staff John Kelly is ordering changes to the White House security clearance process after allegations against an ex-aide. Kelly sent a memo Friday to top White House aides in which he proposed several changes. He acknowledged that the White House “must do better” in handing clearances. The issue has been in the spotlight for two weeks since it was revealed that former staff secretary Rob Porter had an interim clearance that allowed him access to classified material despite allegations of spousal abuse from two ex-wives. Kelly has come under fire since Porter’s resignation. The chief of staff also called for the FBI and Justice Department to… Read More

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Not real news: A look at what didn’t happen this week

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue headlines of the week. None of these stories is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out; here are the real facts: NOT REAL: BREAKING: Second Parkland Shooter in custody THE FACTS: Reports about a second shooter at a high school in Parkland, Florida, this week started with a tweet from an account falsely purporting to be former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. The account was later suspended and police say that suspect Nikolas Cruz acted alone in the massacre that killed 17 people. Also, Florida elections officials refuted a report… Read More

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