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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

The only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to. -- Prospective Juror, Martin Shkreli trial ...

... Harper's republishes some of the jury selection proceedings in the Martin Shkreli case.

Vanity Fair: "... Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times chief book reviewer and Pulitzer Prize winner, who has been, by a wide margin, the most powerful book critic in the English-speaking world, is stepping down.... Kakutani said that she could neither confirm nor comment. But sources familiar with her decision, which comes a year after the Times restructured its books coverage, told me that last year’s election had triggered a desire to branch out and write more essays about culture and politics in Trump’s America."

... Washington Post: "... investigators believe they have discovered the 'smoking gun' that would support a decades-old theory that [Amelia] Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were captured by the Japanese: a newly unearthed photograph from the National Archives that purportedly shows Earhart and Noonan — and their plane — on an atoll in the Marshall Islands.... Gary Tarpinian,  executive producer of the History documentary, told the Today show that they believe the Koshu, the Japanese merchant ship in the photo, took Earhart to Saipan, where she died in Japanese custody."

Summer Beach Reading. James Hohmann of the Washington Post suggests Al Franken's Giant of the Senate. Hohmann's column hits some of the highlights. CW: Let us be thankful that Donald Trump is incapable of learning the lessons Franken learned from his team. If Trump were half as bright as Franken, he would be a succesful president & very effective dictator.

Politico: "MSNBC has parted ways with anchor Greta Van Susteren after just six months on air, as her show failed to live up to the network's ratings expectations. An MSNBC executive said the decision to remove the former Fox News host was purely for business reasons, based on ratings."

Click on the picture to see larger image.... 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."

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."

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."

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."

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.