News and Notes

The use of quotations does not imply endorsement of persons or ideas quoted


President Richard Nixon “would write notes to himself about who he wanted to be. He wanted to be gentle and joyful and considerate— all these things he was not or he was not on a regular basis. But he wanted to be that person.” Evan Thomas, author of Being Nixon (APM Marketplace)

“We have elections too often and it gets in the way of doing good work in Washington.” Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) (Alexander Keyssar, The Right to Vote)

“Political contests in this country are rarely, if ever, death matches between good and evil; the future of civilization is not at stake when we enter the voting booth. The country will survive — and even prosper— even if the other side wins the election.” Lee Hamilton (The Indianapolis Star)

“…the [Affordable Care Act] has helped hold the price of health care to its slowest growth in 50 years. If your family gets insurance through your job…you’re still paying about 1800 dollars less per year, on average, than you would be if we hadn’t done anything. By one leading measure, what business owners pay out in wages and salaries is now finally growing faster than what they spend on health insurance. That hasn’t happened in 17 years.” President Obama, speaking in the Rose Garden on June 25, 2015. (White House Speeches and Events)

“…this next election is going to be a referendum on repealing Obamacare. If a Republican candidate for president isn’t willing to lead that fight and campaign on it every single day, then he or she should get out of the race right now.” Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who is also running for the GOP Primary Presidential nomination for 2016. (USA Today)


>30 – The number of American citizens currently being held hostage overseas. (NPR; WAMU The Diane Rehm Show)

>60 – The percentage of the planet’s coral reefs which are at risk of dying due to climate change. Coral reefs supply 15 tons of seafood per square kilometer per year. (USA Today; Outrigger Enterprises Group OZONE Project)

130 – The number of pounds of trash produced by the average American every month. It’s estimated that by 2100, the global solid waste generation will reach 11 million tons daily. (The Atlantic; Nature)

1934 – The year the Supreme Court banned U.S. cities from dumping garbage into the ocean. (The Atlantic)

2000 – The year Upromise was founded (Sallie Mae/Upromise)

3000 – The year BCE when the earliest recorded landfill was built. It was on the island of Crete. (The Atlantic)

72 Billion – The amount, in dollars, of Puerto Rico’s debt. This is the highest amount of debt per capita of any U.S. state or territory. Unemployment in Puerto Rico is double that of the U.S. and the territory has not seen any economic growth in over a decade. (BBC World News)


U.S. Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 “New Nationalism” speech, and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

June 27, 2015


“I care not for the Magna Farta.” Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) (NPR; Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me)

“Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” Co-founder of 20th Century Fox, Darryl Zanuck, in 1946 (The Atlantic)

“Globally, the balance of opinion is that eventually China is going to supplant the U.S. and become the world’s dominant superpower.” Richard Wike (Pew Research Center)

“Poor people have shitty lobbyists.” Jon Stewart (NPR; WHYY Fresh Air)

“The idea that everyone fits neatly into being employee, unemployed, or an individual contractor really doesn’t reflect the changing nature of this economy.” Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) (APM Marketplace)

“The recent rainfall has knocked Indiana’s projected corn harvest from the top one-quarter of historic yields to the bottom third in just a couple weeks…” Tom Davies, who also reports there have only been 4 days in June without rain in the state. (AP; Indianapolis Star)


Less than 1/3 – The fraction of Americans who are at a healthy weight. (APM Marketplace; Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine)

5 – The largest five rivers in the world by length: (1) Nile, Africa, 4132 miles, (2) Amazon, South America, 3976 miles, (3) Yangtze, Asia, 3917 miles, (4) Mississippi, North America, 3902 miles, and (5) Yenisei, Asia, 3445 miles. (Wikipedia)

8 – The largest eight cities in the world, by population, as of 2012: (1) Tokyo, Japan, (2) Jakarta, Indonesia, (3) Seoul, South Korea, (4) Delhi, India, (5) Shanghai, China, (6) Manila, Philippines, (7) Karachi, Pakistan, and (8) New York, U.S.A. (

40 – The percentage of Denmark’s total energy production which is derived from wind power. (APM Marketplace)

58 – The number of national parks in the U.S. National Park Service. (

700 – The percent increase of piracy in Indonesian waters in the most recent five years. (Global Post)

2000 – The year in which Bob Jones University (Greenville, S.C.) began permitting interracial dating. (MSNBC)

510 Billion – The estimate, in dollars, of global subsidies for fossil fuels. This is approximately four times the amount which goes to renewable energy sources. (International Energy Agency; CNN Fareed Zakaria GPS)


Useful Link for Back-country Hikers: the Indiana DNR’s Map of Indiana’s Long Distance Trails.

Dear Charles.

“It is nothing less than Orwellian. The august, black-robed legal scholars of the U.S. Supreme Court pronounce that an unambiguous, English language sentence in a statute is to be interpreted to mean the opposite of what it plainly says. And we are told to accept this as ‘law.’ Where is the honesty? Where is the integrity? Where is the outrage that our once great nation has come to this? This charade, which further undermines the rule of law, a pillar of Western Civilization, is played out at a time when the barbarians are beating at the gates of that civilization. I grieve for my country today. We are committing cultural suicide.” Charles, from Indianapolis, in a letter to the editor. (Indianapolis Star)

Dear Charles: (1) Should a law be measured by one sloppy sentence or should the law be evaluated based on the entirety of the legislation? If I reduced the meaning of your letter to one little sentence, would that not exclude the intent, context, meaning, and purpose of your prose? (2) We are told to accept the legislation upheld by the Supreme Court as law, yes. That’s what the Court does. If we the people did not accept the legality of the law as determined by the body our Constitution establishes as arbiter, then the rule of law really would be meaningless. Are you suggesting we should not accept the law as the law in violation of the law? I’m confused. (3) “Our once great nation?” We are no longer great? When did that happen? Did you lose your flag pin? Also, if we have lost the honesty, the integrity, and the outrage, well, I know we have not lost a healthy supply of hyperbole. It is alive and well in the pages of my newspaper, thanks to you, sir. (4) The “charade” which is the law and the Court operating exactly as it was intended to is, literally, “the rule of law” so, again, how can the rule of law undermine the rule of law. I’m confused. (5) Eastern Civilization also has rules of law. That’s part of what defines a society as “civilized.” (6) Which barbarians? Which gates? Which civilization? Is this hyperbole, again


June 23, 2015


“Wars begin where you will. They do not end where you please.” Niccolo Machiavelli (The History of Florence, Book III, Chapter 2)

“The end game in terms of eastern Ukraine is the Minsk Agreements. Crimea—we’ve been very clear—the U.N. maps are never going to change. Crimea is part of Ukraine. It has been part of Ukraine. It will remain part of Ukraine.” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power (CNN; Fareed Zakaria GPS)

“I’ve been saying for some time that a group that calls itself the Islamic State is never going to be content until it has sway over the country that has the two holiest cities in Islam…I think the Middle East is probably going to get worse before it gets even worse.” Richard Haas (CNN; Fareed Zakaria GPS)

“I think, for us living in the United States, it’s Al-Qaeda [that’s the bigger threat]. It’s not the Islamic State…We think about even their name: they’re focused on holding the territory they have. There’s a fear that people who’ve fought for them, have passports, might leave. So far there’s no sign they want to do that, have done it, or can do it. Al-Qaeda, all of its branches, we know they want to hit the U.S. We know that’s what they’ve been focused on for decades.” Yochi Dreazen (PBS Washington Week)

“People should not be forced to golf on brown courses.” A wealthy Californian quoted on the injustice of water restrictions due to catastrophic drought. (NPR Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me; Washington Post)

“Well, climate change is maybe the wrong question. Good, stable energy prices and making America an exporter of energy, not just for economic reasons, but quite frankly to disrupt the power with Russia, Iran, and the Saudis. This is a game-changer and America needs to be using the resources it has, use them responsibly, but for heaven’s sakes, use them to empower Americans, help poverty, and also help change the global balance.” Former Governor and Republican Presidential Primary Candidate Mike Huckabee, to whom my response would be: (1) America is already an exporter of energy, so check that off your list. (2) The Saudis are ostensibly our allies. Did you intend to group them with countries with whom we have tense foreign relations? (3) Are you saying Americans are not empowered? (4) I assume you meant “help assuage poverty” and not “help poverty.” (5) Change the global balance diplomatically, economically, environmentally, physically…? Specifics, sir. You’re running for president. (NBC; Meet the Press)

“My biggest frustration so far is the fact that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do just unbelievable damage.” President Obama, May, 2014. (MSNBC)

“It is not good enough simply to show sympathy. You don’t see murder on this kind of scale, with this kind of frequency in any other advanced nation on earth…I refuse to act as if this is the new normal or to pretend that it’s simply sufficient to grieve and that any mention of us doing something to stop [gun violence] is somehow politicizing the problem.” President Obama, June 19th (White House Speeches and Events)


2 – The number of times of increase in clean energy production in the U.S. since President Obama took office in January of 2009. The U.S. is now producing three times as much wind power and ten times as much solar energy as it did then. (President Obama, White House Speeches and Events)

7 – The seven largest islands in the world, in order: Greenland (2,130, 800 sq. km.), New Guinea (785,753 sq. km.), Borneo (748,168 sq. km.), Madagascar (587,713 sq. km.), Baffin Island (507,451 sq. km.), Sumatra (480, 848 sq. km.), and Honshu (225,800 sq. km.). (World Atlas)

10 – The ten largest populations in the world, in order: China, India, the European Union, the U.S., Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia. (2014 numbers, CIA Factbook)

44 – The percentage of Saudi Arabia’s GDP which is from oil. Manufacturing is less than ten percent of the country’s GDP. Money from oil accounts for nearly 90 percent of their government’s revenues. (CNN; Fareed Zakaria GPS)

50 – The number of Americans who have been killed in terrorist attacks since 9/11. There have been nearly 400,000 Americans killed by firearms in the same years. (NBC; Meet the Press)

1961 – The year the Confederate battle flag was first flown on the statehouse grounds in South Carolina. (NBC; Meet the Press)

2012 – The only year since 1980, including 2016, when a Bush or a Clinton was not running for president or VP. (Public Record; NPR; WAMU The Diane Rehm Show)

Nearly 33,000 – The number of people killed in ca. 13,500 terrorist attacks globally in 2014. (Wall Street Journal; Capital Journal)

Almost 3 Billion – The amount in dollars of the budget shortfall which the V.A. (Department of Veterans Affairs) is currently facing. (PBS NewsHour)

June 18, 2015


“Let us turn ours into a country of mushrooms.” One of 300 awesome new slogans for the country of North Korea which were published by Leader Kim Jong Un in February. (NPR; Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me)

“Ted Cruz says there’s no room for Christians in today’s Democratic Party. What? 80 percent of Democrats in Congress are Christian and 78 percent of Democratic governors. You can look this shit up, you know.” Bill Maher (HBO Real Time with Bill Maher)

“Despite constant gloom and doom predictions, the unending Chicken Little warnings that somehow making health insurance fair and easier to buy would lead to the end of freedom, the end of the American way of life, lo and behold, it did not happen. None of this came to pass.” President Obama, speaking in Washington about the ACA. (PBS NewsHour)

“…despite the modest gains of the Affordable Care Act…we still have 35 million people without any health insurance; we have more who are underinsured and we end up spending twice as much per capita as the people of any other country. Clearly this is not a system that is working well. So I do believe in a Medicare-For-All, single-payer program administered at the state-wide level.” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who is running for the Democratic nomination for president for 2016. (NPR; WAMU The Diane Rehm Show)

“I would build a great wall…I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying what he would do once he is president. He hasn’t filed his official paperwork with the FEC yet but he has announced and he’s also suggested he would like Oprah Winfrey to be his running mate. And there’s the wall thing. (PBS NewsHour; MSNBC)


10 – The number of state-sanctioned hairstyles from which North Korean men can choose to legally have. Unless they are male and university students, in which case they are required by law to have the same haircut as their leader, Kim Jong Un. (NPR; Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me)

13 – The number of Librarians of Congress there have been in over 200 years of the Library’s existence. President Obama is currently seeking the 14th. (APM Marketplace)

54 – The percentage of Indiana residents who want a new governor, according to a new poll. (Indianapolis Star)

1,322 – The estimated amount, in U.S. dollars, which thinks is worth, as of 06/17/2015. It’s not for sale, FYI. (

2700 – The amount, in dollars, of a ticket to the June 22 Indianapolis fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign which is scheduled at the home of Cindy Simon Skojdt. (WFYI; Indiana Week in Review)

1.5 Million – The earnings, in dollars, per hour-long speech Donald Trump earned in 2006-2007. He made 17 speeches at that pay rate during that time. (Gannett; USA Today)

1.8 Billion – The amount of money, in dollars, which Greece must pay back to the International Monetary Fund by June 30th in order not to be declared bankrupt. (PBS NewsHour)


A Shout-Out for Three Indispensible Apps for Blogging/Content-Creation on an iPad: Aviary, Blogsy, and Moldiv.

Two Articles to Check Out: (1) Did people in the Middle Ages take baths? (2) Rethinking the Social Contract in the Age of Uber.

June 7, 2015


“I’ve yet to talk to a Democrat—aside from John Gregg himself—who is actually excited about a second Gregg-for-governor campaign. His cornpone act in 2012 wore thin for many Democrats, who also are hesitant to bet a winnable election on the guy who lost last time.” Tim Swarens (Indianapolis Star)

“The frustration for me…as a patient is that the insurance company is blaming the pharmaceutical prices, the pharmaceutical company is blaming the insurance companies for not passing on discounts but as a patient we’re still left with incredibly high [prescription drug] costs.” A caller to the Diane Rehm Show (NPR; WAMU)

“The worst thing that can happen to a politician is not to have someone to talk to. The next worse thing is to not know what is going on.” Former White House Chief of Staff and former Secretary of State James Baker, in 1976, in a memo titled “Proposed Delegate Management Operation.” (Slate’s Whistlestop)

“When will hate be exhausted?” Claude Debussy (Eric Burns, 1920)

“How long do you remain a great country when your politics can only create sub-optimal outcomes?” Thomas Friedman (NPR; WBUR On Point with Tom Ashbrook)

“We can only have as good a foreign policy as the public’s understanding of world affairs.” Zbiegnew Brzezinski (NPR; WAMU The Diane Rehm Show)

“For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half-owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life…” George Eliot (Middlemarch)


0 – The number of pounds of CO2 emitted per kilowatt hour for energy derived from solar sources. There are 2.1 pounds of CO2 emitted per kilowatt hour by coal and 1.2 pounds per kilowatt hour by natural gas. (Time)

3 to 4 – The number of years queen bees normally live. In the past nine years, many queens aren’t living 60 days. (NPR; WAMU The Diane Rehm Show)

368 – The number of violent crimes per 100,000 Americans committed in 2013. 478 people were incarcerated per 100,000 that year. In 1995, there were 750 violent crimes committed per 100,000 people and approximately 400 incarcerated per 100,000. (FBI; Department of Justice; Time)

2,200 – The approximate number of people killed by the heat wave in India since mid-April. (PBS NewsHour)

644,000 – The number of total solar-panel systems in the U.S. as of 2014. In 2010, there were only 156,000 and in 2005 there were only 20,000. (Time)

June 3, 2015


“With that résumé, national security, success in Washington, and success as an executive, I mean, I think it’s the best résumé and really a terrific record” [for a presidential candidate]. Ohio Governor John Kasich (R), explaining why his résumé is “best” among the GOP candidates for the White House in 2016. He is expected to declare his candidacy officially later this month. (NBC; Meet the Press)

“Nobody’s ever been more successful than me. I’m the most successful person ever to run [for president]. The American Dream is dead. It’s dead. Dead as a doornail, but I’m going to bring it back stronger than ever before…I have an absolute way of defeating ISIS and it will be decisive and quick and very, very — it would be very beautiful.” Donald Trump, speaking to the Des Moines Register. It would be swell of him to share his big, beautiful secret on quickly defeating ISIS, like, now. I mean, since he has the answer and presumably is interested in helping humanity and all. Why wait to be a president in 2017 when you can be a hero today, Mr. Trump? (MSNBC)

…”what [Democratic Socialism] means is you have countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, other European countries which have had Democratic Socialism and Labour governments and the result of that is, in those countries, health care is a right of all people…tuition is free in many of those countries. They have excellent childcare, strong retirement benefits. They’re often very strong[ly] pro-environment…So I think when people understand that in those countries governments are working for the middle class rather than the billionaire class, I think that we can get our message across.” Independent Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president for 2016. (NBC; Late Night with Seth Myers)


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