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Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

Click on the picture to see larger image.... Low Society News. AP: "... Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were among the guests as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin’s) married a Scottish actress. Mnuchin exchanged vows Saturday night with Louise Linton at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. Mrs. Trump wore a pink blush dress" CW: which, if you follow Reality Chex, you will know was enhanced by some really costly baubles that remind the bride of Grace Kelly or happy times or something.

New Yorker: "In a paper in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers announced that they have pushed back the date of the earliest human remains to three hundred thousand years ago. And the specimens in question were found not in East Africa, which has become synonymous with a sort of paleoanthropological Garden of Eden, but clear on the other side of the continent — and the Sahara — in Morocco." -- CW ...

Washington Post: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took a final, bittersweet bow Sunday, staging its last three shows [in Uniondale, N.Y.,] after 146 years of entertaining American audiences with gravity-defying trapeze stunts, comically clumsy clowns and trained tigers." -- CW 

Guardian: "Pippa Middleton [sister of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge --] has married James Matthews in what has been called the society wedding of the year, in front of royalty, family and friends." -- CW

Washington Post: "Two months before Monday’s [May 8] announcement that Sinclair Broadcast Group would pay $3.9 billion for Tribune Media and add to its dominance as the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations, a top executive at Sinclair beamed a short commentary piece to many of the company’s 173 stations.In the segment, which looks like it belongs in a newscast, Sinclair vice president for news Scott Livingston stands before a wall of video monitors and warns that 'some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.' He accuses the national media of publishing 'fake news stories' — a direct echo of President Trump’s frequent complaint — and then asks viewers to visit the station’s website to share 'content concerns.' The piece was a 'must-run,' meaning news directors and station managers from Baltimore to Seattle had to find room for it.... While partisan coverage is a familiar staple of cable networks — Fox News on the right, MSNBC on the left — it remains mostly unheard of in broadcast TV, where it has generally been accepted that public airwaves should be used in the difficult-to-define public interest.” -- CW 

CNN: "21st Century Fox and the private equity firm Blackstone are in talks to launch a bid for Tribune Media, one of the nation's largest television broadcasting companies, a source with knowledge of the matter said Sunday. The deal currently under discussion would see Blackstone and Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox forming a joint venture. Blackstone would provide the cash for the acquisition while Fox would add all its owned-and-operated television stations to the joint venture." -- CW 

New York Times: "Prehistoric humans — perhaps Neanderthals or another lost species — occupied what is now California some 130,000 years ago, a team of scientists reported on Wednesday. The bold and fiercely disputed claim, published in the journal Nature, is based on a study of mastodon bones discovered near San Diego. If the scientists are right, they would significantly alter our understanding of how humans spread around the planet." -- CW 

If you're curious as to how realistic the New York City apartments of TV sitcom characters are -- in terms of what the characters could reasonably afford -- the Washington Post checks out several of the hovels & dream rentals of a number of shows. Kinda fun. CW: My husband & I (he paid the rent) had a fairly spacious two-bedroom with a galley kitchen (dishwasher included!) & dining room plus teensy closets on Washington Square in the 1980s & '90s. NYU owned the building & helped considerably with the rent.

Politico: "Comedian Hasan Minhaj will be this year's entertainer for the White House Correspondents' Dinner later this month, the association's president announced on Tuesday. Minhaj is a stand up comedian and senior correspondent on 'The Daily Show,' where he has performed caustic bits on ... Donald Trump, liberals and others in between. Minhaj has Washington experience already, having performed as host of last year's Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner." -- CW 

AFP: "After months of uncertainty and controversy, Bob Dylan finally accepted the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature at a jovial, champagne-laced ceremony on Saturday, [April 1,] the Swedish Academy announced. The academy, which awards the coveted prize, ended prolonged speculation as to whether the 75-year-old troubadour would use a concert stopover in Stockholm to accept the gold medal and diploma awarded to him back in October." -- CW 

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Illinois

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Chicago Sun-Times, November 17: "By a margin of 291 votes out of more than 200,000 cast, GOP challenger Joe Walsh emerged Tuesday as the winner over U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean in their nail-biting 8th District congressional race." Walsh is a tea party-backed conservative.

Chicago Tribune, November 5: "Republican challenger Bill Brady this afternoon conceded defeat to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn...."

I Love You, Man. ABC-7 Chicago, November 4: "Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias spent months painting each other as unfit for the post of U.S. senator from Illinois. But that acrimony did not stop them from throwing back a beer together the day after Election Night at Chicago's legendary Billy Goat tavern...."

Chicago Sun-Times: "Gov. Quinn said Thursday he had built up an 'insurmountable' lead of 'way more than 19,000 votes' in his bid for governor. Hours later, the Associated Press reported that its analysis showed that Quinn was the winner."

The Illinois governor's race still has not been decided, but on Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune reports, "Leading Republicans this afternoon are privately expressing doubts that Bill Brady can overcome Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's narrow lead following Tuesday's election, and a Tribune survey of election officials likewise indicates there may not be enough ballots left uncounted to make a difference."

** NBC News projects that Republican Mark Kirk will win the Illinois Senate seat, the seat held by President Obama.

New York Times: in the final days, an ugly Senate race turns polite.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee runs a tough ad against Republican Mark Kirk:

     ... Huh. The ultra-conservative Weekly Standard doesn't care for the "outrageous" ad & notes that the VFW-Pac endorsed Kirk. CW: it isn't true, as the WS article states, that the ad isn't on YouTube because that's where I got it. I couldn't find a fact-check on it, but the ad looks accurate to me.

Kirk & Giannoulias debate. Clip:

     ... You can watch the whole debate on C-SPAN. The Sun-Times pretty much characterizes the debate as one with "no answers to the questions."

Michelle Obama campaigns in Chicago:

Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times: "In their first debate, Illinois Senate rivals Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk drew stark contrasts Sunday on NBC's 'Meet the Press' over job creation -- and whose credibility is most flawed."

Monica Davey of the New York Times, October 6: "More is at stake in the race here than merely the balance of power in the Senate. Senator Roland W. Burris, a Democrat who was appointed to the post and is not seeking election, may hold this seat for the moment, but it remains, in the minds of loyalists of both parties, Mr. Obama’s."

Chicago Tribune: "... with federal prosecutors pushing for a quick retrial, Democrats seeking election this fall could find themselves up against a daily drumbeat of Blagojevich revelations during the heart of campaign season."

President Obama will speak on behalf of Democratic Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias today, August 5. Washington Post story here.

The Chicago Sun-Times, August 2, has tied Democratic Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias to disgraced financier Tony Rezko. In 2006, a company in which Rezko had an interest obtained a $22.5MM loan from Giannoulias' now-defunct family bank. Giannoulias' spokesperson said the candidate knew nothing about the loan, which the bank made after Giannoulias had stopped working for the bank, although he still held an ownership stake in it.

Oh, boy. The appointment of Sen. Roland Burris is back in the news. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times reports: "A little-noticed federal appellate panel ruling may trigger two elections for an Illinois Senate seat on Nov. 2 -- one to fill a new six-year term and, in a stunning development, another to elect someone to finish the remaining days of Barack Obama's original Senate term.... The decision said that Burris is only a temporary appointee until an election is held."

Washington Post: "U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias said Sunday that he won't be hurt politically by his subpoena to testify at the corruption trial of ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but his Republican opponent pounced at the chance to try to shift attention from his own troubles in the contentious race for President Barack Obama's old Senate seat."

After lying about his military record, & after lying about lying about his military record (really!) Rep. Mark Kirk, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, is caught repeatedly exaggerating his teaching experience, according to a New York Times report.

Nitpicker Terry Welch gets confirmation from the Pentagon that Illinois Republican candidate for Senate Mark Kirk "was counseled" twice about his violations of military policy which prohibits servicemembers from participating in partisan politics while on active duty. Further, Welch notes that Kirk has since made a false statement about his violations of the policy. Related AP story: "The Pentagon said Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk has been cautioned twice for improperly mingling politics with his military service, but Kirk's campaign denied any improper conduct Tuesday." Both stories via Ben Smith. CW: Kirk seems to have a serious disconnect with the truth, especially in relation to his military service. See stories below.

Huffington Post: "In the latest twist in the ever-growing Mark Kirk military service fiasco, the Illinois Senate candidate appears to have violated military regulations by campaigning while on active duty. If Kirk did indeed campaign while serving, as a newly released Department of Defense memo suggests, the offense would be punishable by up to two years of confinement and dishonorable discharge from the military."

Chicago Tribune, June 3: "Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk apologized today for erroneous statements about his 21-year record as a Navy Reserve intelligence officer and acknowledged more discrepancies between his actual service and the political rhetoric describing his actions. Appearing before the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board, Kirk would not directly answer questions about whether the series of errors amounted to an effort to embellish his military military history."

Mark Kirk Lies about Lying. Todd Lighty & Rick Pearson of the Chicago Tribune: "Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk says his staff discovered he was mistakenly claiming to be the U.S. Navy intelligence officer of the year, but a military spokesman said today the Navy alerted Kirk about the inaccuracy after media inquiries."

Washington Post: Mark Kirk, "the Republican candidate for President Obama's old Senate seat, has admitted to inaccurately claiming he received the U.S. Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award.... Kirk, a Navy reservist who was elected to Congress in 2001, acknowledged the error in his official biography after The Washington Post began looking into whether he had received the prestigious award."

     ... Steve Benen reminds us that Kirk makes a habit of exaggerating his military creds, which is weird because Kirk really does have an admirable service record....

     ... Update: Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post turns up video of Kirk, during a House committee meeting, claiming to be Intelligence Officer of the Year.