Map of the day

Declining cigarette sales (in animated gif form!) via BusinessInsider:

cigarette sales gif map

And a nice chart:

cigarette sales per capita

Interesting that the steep decline seems to be flattening out.  Floor effect?

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Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s week in pictures:

Lightning strikes over buildings during heavy rainfall in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, China

Lightning strikes over buildings during heavy rainfall in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, ChinaPicture: REUTERS

Photo of the day

There’s a pretty great story behind these (mostly empty interiors) photos of the World Trade Center:

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Konstantin Petrov

The real-world impact of NC’s voter ID law

Democracy Now in NC did a study to see how many votes went uncounted under the new rules adopted this year that would have counted in previous elections.  From WRAL:

With the voter registration deadline for the November elections one month away, a voting watchdog group said Wednesday that it’s already found hundreds of cases in which last year’s changes to state election laws have prevented otherwise qualified voters from casting ballots.

Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said an analysis of rejected provisional ballots in the May primary found 454 that would have been counted under the same circumstances in 2012…

Others were voters who cast provisional ballots in precincts other than their own. In 2012, those were counted as partial ballots if the voter was in his or her home county. Now, out-of-precinct ballots are not allowed in most cases…

Lawmakers who backed the election law changes say they’re needed to make voting more efficient and prevent voter fraud.

But the groups suing to stop the Republican-penned changes argue they’re intended to make it harder for low-income, minority, student and elderly voters – groups that traditionally vote Democratic – to cast ballots.

Hall said his analysis of the rejected provisional ballots bears that out. While black voters make up just 22 percent of the state’s electorate, they accounted for 39 percent of the rejected ballots. Fifty-seven percent of the ballots were cast by registered Democrats, who make up only 42 percent of North Carolina voters.

“It proves, really, what has been said about the discriminatory nature of the new law,” Hall said, noting that the people affected include a veteran, students and even a precinct judge.

If you think the intent of the law was to make voting more efficient and prevent fraud, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.  Sure, this is a relatively small number of disenfranchised voter, but this analysis was based on a very low turnout election.  So, when people talk about preventing those unicorn-like cases of in-person voter fraud, here’s the cost– real voters, not unicorns, are being disenfranchised.

And dare I say any party/ideology which thinks a key to its success is shrinking the electorate is neither a confident nor healthy party.

When the police steal your cash, redux

The Post story I linked to the other day was the first in a 3-part series.  The final installment is largely a litany of completely innocent Americans who have been absolutely screwed by their own government and their own law enforcement.  So frustrating and depressing to read.  Time after time the police are stealing cash from people because they appear nervous or because the police smell drugs that are never found.   Wake up America– this is your f***ing war on drugs!   People need to share this widely.  Our government (no government in a democracy!) should absolutely, positively not operate this way.

I had lunch today with a former student who recounted an incident where he and his brother were pulling away from a bus station when they were eventually stopped by four! of Town of Cary’s finest and instructed to wait outside the car while a drug dog was brought into sniff.  They were never given any reason/explanation for the police actions.  Fortunately for these two, they weren’t carrying any serious cash for the police to steal and were sent on their way and just minor civil liberties violations.  On the bright side, I suppose (??) this student and his brother are two incredibly, clean-cut white guys (his older brother is special forces, no less) and were subject to this.  I guess I should be happy that this can happen to clean-cut white guys, too?

I was curious to look up the law in NC in the hopes that I could try and at least bring about change in my hope state.  The good news?  North Carolina is the best in the country on the issue.   Apparently Nebraska and Wisconsin are pretty good, too.  But as for the rest of America?  All your cash belong to us.

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