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Language Clarity Above All

Over the last 18 months, we've made an on-going effort to highlight various cases of accidental shootings - sometimes leading to grave injuries, other times to minor ones, but usually illustrating the straightforward fact that guns are dangerous and people often do stupid things with them. Like showing them off to friends while they're loaded, or showing them off when the gun is loaded and the gun-shower is also loaded, or leaving them unsecured where 3 year olds can find them and blow their heads off. But frequently, and increasingly of late, we get emails from readers criticizing our decision to call these shootings 'accidents' because that is not, in their view, what they are.

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Elmo, Scared Straight

Best thing going on in this picture is Elmo's look of shock and surprise.

This is from a New York Post article on a police altercation in Times Square with a man dressed up as spiderman. According to the article, Spiderman was pulling a more exorbitant than usual tourist shakedown; a cop asked Spiderman for ID. At some point in the interaction - who knows what happened leading up to it - Spiderman roundhoused the cop and things went about as you'd expect from that point on.

In fact, if you've spent much time in NYC you'll know that the Time Square Elmo is a pretty gritty figure, with a fairly gnarly costume, who you're as likely as not to see taking a break near the Starbucks dragging on a cigarette or getting in tourists' faces if they don't pay a higher fee for a picture with the kids. But still, Elmo!

The End of the Death Penalty

As you know, two days ago the State of Arizona staged a botched execution in which the condemned inmate gasped and snorted and made other sounds for almost two hours before eventually dying. Here's the surreal transcript of the lawyers in the case on the phone with the judge (among other things trying to figure out how to set up a conference call) quasi-litigating what to do as the execution continued on without the prisoner actually dying. The state prison chief's new claim that, in fact, "parts" of the execution went "perfectly" only underscores what increasingly looks to be the freakish and chaotic end-state of capital punishment in America.

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The Purge: Mississippi Tea Party Edition

The fact that Mississippi Republicans who supported state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) still won't concede the June 24 runoff for the U.S. Senate nomination to incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran is only getting more hilarious.

Now they're uninviting former Mississippi Tea Party board member Bill Marcy (pictured below) from the organization's annual meeting tomorrow in Vicksburg, Mississippi, apparently because of his critical Facebook posts about McDaniel.

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Bizarre and Surreal

I don't think I've ever seen anything like this. Perhaps there's never been anything like it. But we now have the transcript of the discussion between the defense lawyer, the prosecutor and the judge as Joseph Wood lay gasping and snorting before finally dying for almost two hours during that botched execution in Arizona. So, learn how three lawyers try to set up a conference call while trying to litigate whether to cut short an execution and try to revive the condemned man. Yes, it's that bad and that weird. Here it is.

Hard Out There for a Tea Partier

A Tea Party-backed Texas lawmaker, state Rep. David Simpson (R-TX) was harangued by an angry constituent when he tried to argue for a compassionate approach to minors interdicted at the US/Mexico border. Watch.

Disaster Porn, For Once for Real

I usually tend to dismiss near-miss science and astronomy disaster porn, which usually comes in the form of asteroids that almost but didn't slam into the earth and other related horrors. The Earth has been around for a few billion years and it's been many millions of years since the planet suffered a true global catastrophe. So what are the odds, in this tiny sliver of decades at the leading edge of history, when we're finally able to have some inkling of what's going on in near space, that we're actually finding out about some real global catastrophe that had any real chance of happening? Small, I'd say. Well, here may be the one exception that proves the rule. According to a NASA study, the Earth just missed what would have been not a civilization ending but a truly massive global catastrophe in 2012 because of a huge solar storm.

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