The Muppets As ‘Twin Peaks’ Characters [Pics]

Miss Piggy may not be my favorite Muppet, but her “death” is certainly disturbing. This watercolor and ink series was done by Justin DeVine, who is an avid fan of both The Muppets and the cult ’90s show Twin Peaks. [via Welcome to Twin Peaks]

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Florida teacher fired after ordering boys to attack classmate and ‘teach him a lesson’

A Florida teacher officially lost her job last week after encouraging six boys to attack a classmate. The seventh grader, identified as Radravious Williams, allegedly threatened teacher Dru Dehart in March 2013. The teacher then told a group of boys to beat up the boy and “teach him a lesson.” The boys, ages 11 to 15, were caught hitting and kicking their classmate on surveillance video. The victim said he told Dehart he “wished he […]

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Congressman Tells Black Constituent That The Civil Rights Act May Be Unconstitutional

Half a century after it was passed, there are still Republicans who oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The latest one revealed himself on Monday.

The post Congressman Tells Black Constituent That The Civil Rights Act May Be Unconstitutional appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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Teen convicted of disorderly conduct for using iPad to record bullies tormenting him

A Pennsylvania mother whose learning-disabled son was convicted of disorderly conduct for recording his bullies while they tormented him demanded the judge reverse decision and the school district apologize. Shea Love wondered why the school district contacted the police to discuss a violation of wiretap statutes instead of confronting the students who were bullying her son, a sophomore at South Fayette High School with attention deficit and an anxiety disorder. “The whole thing has been […]

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U.S. Army Releases Racially Biased Hairstyle Regulations

Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs of the National Guard in Georgia has always plaited her hair into two twists around her head. She has been in the military for six years and has worn her hair natural (meaning no chemical treatments [perms] or hair extensions [weaves]) for four of those years. But according to the new hair-grooming […]

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Updated: Engineering money for I-57/74 interchange in next round of state plan | News-Gazette.com

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Lot J on campus to close April 16

A major campus parking lot will close next week as crews prepare to break ground on a six-story hotel and apartment complex just off Green Street.

CHAMPAIGN — A major campus parking lot will close next week as crews prepare to break ground on a six-story hotel and apartment complex just off Green Street.

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Ben Stein: Poor people are jealous, lazy drunks who don’t appreciate indoor plumbing

Conservative pundit Ben Stein suggested that only government-sanctioned religion could save poor Americans from their own “self-sabotage,” reported Right Wing Watch.

“What will make the genuinely poor stop sabotaging themselves?” the actor and TV host asked Friday in The American Spectator. “Maybe, just maybe, if we let God back into the public forum it would help. I have seen spiritual solutions work miracles.”

Stein argued that anyone concerned about wealth inequality was just jealous of billionaires, whom he described as necessary and beneficial to American society.

“They fund symphonies and ballets and schools for inner city kids,” he argued, while recovering from an illness and listening to Big Band music. “They are a bulwark against tyranny because they can afford lawyers to fight overweening government.”

The wealthy are actually good for democracy, Stein argued.

“We want for there to be a high number of rich people who function as a brake on government just as the nobles did on the crown in long ago England,” he said.

On the other hand, Stein argued, poor people dragged down society with their slovenly habits and appearance.

“My humble observation is that most long-term poverty is caused by self-sabotage by individuals,” he argued. “Drug use. Drunkenness. Having children without a family structure. Gambling. Poor work habits. Disastrously unfortunate appearance. Above all, and counted in the preceding list, psychological problems (very much including basic laziness) cause people to be unemployed, have poor or no work habits, and enter and stay in poverty.”

Stein argued that the definition of “real poverty” had been diluted since his childhood in the early 1950s, when cars and air conditioning were considered luxuries.

“Yes, the government designates many tens of millions as poor, but they almost always have indoor plumbing (which my mother did not have in her small town in the Catskills) and they are super nourished as opposed to mal-nourished,” he said. “They get food stamps. They get free medical care. They get vouchers for many of the needs of life.”

While he pities their plight, Stein pointed out that poverty was greatly reduced in scope and severity in the past century.

“In olden times, poverty was the common human condition,” Stein said. “In the USA, as recently as the Great Depression, poverty was commonplace. FDR might have exaggerated when he described one-third of the nation as ‘ill housed, ill fed and ill clad…’ But surely he was not far off.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, of course, enacted New Deal domestic policies that imposed stricter industry regulations and enacted programs, such as Social Security, to fight poverty – although Stein curiously overlooks these.

“Is there any public policy that can help them? We just don’t know so far,” he laments.


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Another Chrome Bug Allows People to Eavesdrop On Your Microphone

Another Chrome Bug Allows People to Eavesdrop On Your Microphone

A new bug was found in Chrome that allows a web site to trigger and monitor your microphone without your knowledge. Chrome has accidentally allowed web sites to eavesdrop on your mic before, but this exploit does keeps its actions pretty well hidden.


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The TSA Vs. The Fourth Amendment: You're Free To Board A Plane, But You're Not Free To Leave The Screening Area

We've often discussed the TSA's ridiculous pantomime deployed with the pretense that vague and ever-shifting rules -- most written as a reaction to previous failed attacks -- somehow make flying safer, even if these policies have failed to prevent attackers from boarding planes or even sniff out potential terrorists in order to apprehend them. The entire process has been ridiculed (as all knee-jerk responses should be) to no end, which is just as well considering the TSA program itself is apparently going to be endless.

While we've examined the security theater players' parts, we really haven't spent much time examining the stage itself. Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, David Post asks just how many of our rights are we supposed to give up for the illusion of safety?

I started watching the TSA video that was running on the monitors overhead, and I was struck when the narrator said: ”Once you enter the screening area, you will not be permitted to leave without TSA permission.” Really?! Actually, I am permitted to leave without TSA permission, whether they like it or not, because the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on “unreasonable . . . seizures” gives me that permission. We have a word for this, too, in the law, when government agents don’t allow us to leave freely: ”being in custody.” And the government cannot put me in custody when they have absolutely no reason to believe that I have broken the law – the 4th Amendment prohibits that. Nor can they say “you’ve consented to being in custody when you go to the airport,” any more than they can say “you’ve consented to being in custody whenever you leave your home, so we can grab you and hold you whenever we damn please.”

Post's followup discussion with TSA agents didn't add much in the way of clarification. The agents told him that he wasn't free to leave but he certainly wasn't being detained. Not "in custody," but not allowed to exit the screening area -- just one of the many contradictions that defines the TSA's bureaucratic morass.

Orin Kerr has responded in another post, stating that whether or not the "seizure" is "unreasonable," caselaw backs up the TSA's position.
The “right to leave” argument was first litigated in the early 1970s when airport security screening was new. At the time, the Fifth Circuit clearly rejected the argument. See United States v. Skipwith, 482 F.2d 1272, 1277 (5th Cir. 1973). The Fifth Circuit reasoned that an alternative approach would give hijackers a way to probe for poor security practices and then only go through security when it was lax.

The logic behind this opinion is mostly sound, but this is something that should be clarified by the agency relying on this caselaw. When someone asks whether or not they're being detained or are in custody, they should be told that they are -- even if said custody technically ends when they board their flight. This may make more people unhappy, but the TSA's never really been a people-friendly operation.

If there was ever going to be an opportunity to move caselaw to a bit more reasonable point in relation to consent, custody and security checkpoints, that door was slammed shut by the 9/11 attacks. From the Ninth Circuit decision concurring with the Fifth Circuit's 1970s decision:
[R]equiring that a potential passenger be allowed to revoke consent to an ongoing airport security search makes little sense in a post-9/11 world. Such a rule would afford terrorists multiple opportunities to attempt to penetrate airport security by “electing not to fly” on the cusp of detection until a vulnerable portal is found. This rule would also allow terrorists a low-cost method of detecting systematic vulnerabilities in airport security, knowledge that could be extremely valuable in planning future attacks.

In other words, extenuating circumstances, dating back to the 1970s, have turned an airplane ticket into a waiver of Fourth Amendment rights. While I appreciate the fact that restoring these rights would make it much easier for would-be attackers to probe for security holes, the same rationale makes anyone attempting (or asking) to leave the screening area instantly suspicious -- and subject to additional searches and screenings.

This aligns very much with the general law enforcement view on "reasonable suspicion" in terms of checkpoints and roadblocks. Any driver who turns down a side road or performs a U-turn in order to avoid a police checkpoint is presumed to be guilty of… something and therefore should be pursued and stopped. At no point is this driver ever in "custody," and yet, he or she isn't free to leave the area, even when the driver is several cars back in the line. This would seem to violate the Fourth Amendment as well, but courts in many states have determined that simply avoiding a checkpoint is, in itself, enough reasonable suspicion to allow officers to pull over the vehicle.

Other courts have argued that a legal maneuver to avoid a checkpoint is not enough to indicate reasonable suspicion, but the reality here (as lawyers caution) is that drivers avoiding a DUI checkpoint or other police roadblock should expect to be pulled over and questioned. In the end, the only practical difference between these two rulings is the admissibility of evidence in court. At the point where the Fourth Amendment should matter, it doesn't. It's only after the fact.

Although they aren't told explicitly, simply entering the screening area is giving consent to the TSA to search you and your belongings. Should you wish to revoke this consent, you would need to make that decision before reaching the screening area. Practically speaking, this means finding another way to reach your destination. There's no way to assert your rights and still board a plane, even if you haven't broken any laws and aren't planning to.

Caselaw (and some common sense) supports the TSA's claim that travelers are not free to leave the screening area. But the TSA should be honest about it, rather than simply expect all travelers to be perfectly fine with waiving their rights for the "privilege" of boarding a plane. And the courts should be wary of issuing more caselaw supporting the expansion of "constitution-free zones" to anywhere the TSA (or other government agencies) might be operating.

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Vine Dad Feels Your Parenting Pain


Parents of the world, follow this Vine comedian immediately.

Tony Serafini, known as Bottlerocket on Vine, regularly includes family in his six-second videos. None are more hilarious than his Saturday morning clips starring his 7-year-old daughter, the pop song of her choosing and Serafini 's look of pure defeat. The videos encapsulate the reality of parenting a pop-obsessed child.

Tony told Mashable that he shoots these Vine videos each Saturday morning before his daughter's dance class.

"She loves to sing and dance so I started sneaking Vines of her," he said. "The angry look is obviously exaggerated, trying to channel other dads in this situation." Read more...

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Local Sunday Supper

Joshua and Janelle Huddleston recently formed their new catering/local food event company Eat Local. Stay Local., specializing in private functions, specialty dinners, and pop-up restaurant events. After leaving Dublin O’Neil’s earlier this year, they have since held a couple of pop-up dinner events at Sylvia’s Irish Inn in Urbana. Their most recent event was this past Sunday — a beer dinner at JT Walker’s Brewery in Mahomet. Tickets were $50 each, and this limited-seating event was a four-course dinner and pairing with JT Walker’s beer.

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UI event to support Native American student disturbed by Chief images

A University of Illinois student group has organized a walk on the Quad tonight to show support for a Native American student who recently wrote about the anguish brought on by still seeing images of the retired, but not gone, Chief Illiniwek.

URBANA — A University of Illinois student group has organized a walk on the Quad tonight to show support for a Native American student who recently wrote about the anguish brought on by still seeing images of the retired, but not gone, Chief Illiniwek.

"Walk with Xochitl" is scheduled for 6 to 7 tonight on the UI Quad.

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Here's The Most Accurate Measurement Of The Universe's Expansion Yet

Here's The Most Accurate Measurement Of The Universe's Expansion Yet

How much has the universe expanded and how quickly? A pair of new analyses yields the most precise answer to that question we've ever had.


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