The weather report:
Freak “S” shaped storm unleashes biblical rain in Pensacola, Mobile: http://t.co/LGBo9FWydN pic.twitter.com/u2GJowmOrV
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) April 30, 2014
Botched execution: "A controversial double execution in Oklahoma was scrubbed Tuesday night after the first inmate to receive an experimental three-drug cocktail writhed and grimaced on the gurney, struggled to lift his head and died of a heart attack more than 40 minutes later, officials and witnesses said. Clayton Lockett's bizarre death came after a constitutional showdown in Oklahoma over state execution secrecy laws. It is likely to provoke strong criticism from death penalty critics at a time when similar policies for lethal injections have come under fire across the nation." The man was convicted of murdering a woman in 1999. After he began to grimace and seize, officials stopped the execution, then talked about taking him to a hospital to resuscitate him, and then he had a heart attack and died.
Definitive evidence that Moscow is deliberately trying to shake down Ukraine with this soldiers-disguised-as-just-folks tactic: "The US secretary of state, John Kerry, claims America has obtained intercepted phone calls that prove Moscow is deliberating trying to destabilise eastern Ukraine, according to reports of leaked remarks he made at a private meeting last week. US news site the Daily Beast quoted Kerry saying: 'Intel is producing taped conversations of intelligence operatives taking their orders from Moscow … We know exactly where they are coming from.' The leaked comments came as masked pro-Russian gunmen took control of a government building in another eastern Ukrainian town, north of the separatist stronghold of Donetsk. They were seen controlling official buildings in Horlivka, a day after hundreds of separatists seized a police headquarters in nearby Luhansk. They wore the same military uniforms without insignia as other so-called 'green men' who have joined pro-Russian protesters in seizing control of a string of towns in the eastern Donbass region."
Ukraine says local police are overwhelmingly outmatched by pro-Russian paramilitaries: "The acting president of Ukraine said on Wednesday that the police and security officials in several regions in the eastern part of the country could not control the pro-Russian militias demanding greater autonomy from the central government." I quibble with that lede—saying that they're asking for "greater autonomy" is taking them at their word. Every piece of evidence shows they're looking for less autonomy because they're trying to shove the country, which recently won a popular rebellion against a kleptocrat, into the more autocratic Russian sphere of orbit.
The cold war on women—GOP state chair Susan Hutchison tells male candidates to avoid the subject of ladies and their bodies altogether: "In addition to advising Republicans to accuse Democrats of hating women, Hutchison also has some advice specifically for male candidates: 'Please don’t mention the word "rape" in any way,' Hutchison sagely advises. 'Also, let’s not talk about anything to do with women’s reproductive cycles or um, um, women’s sexuality,' continues Hutchison before state Representative Liz Pike (R-Camas) helpfully adds in: 'Don’t talk about things in the bedroom or the doctor’s office.' Because letting women know that Republicans want to control their sexuality makes it harder to win women’s votes, I suppose."
The latest schemes of the Koch brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council: "An internal document shows ALEC is tracking 131 bills which, among other issues, seek to roll back renewable energy standards, combat federal coal regulations and tout the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. ALEC’s efforts recently paid off in Oklahoma where Gov. Mary Fallin has signed a measure allowing utilities to charge customers who generate energy from solar panels or small wind turbines."
Fuckin' Mufti: Saudi religious officials have issued a fatwa against The 99 comic for its friendly, tolerant-of-other-world-views Muslim hero. The story gives a taste of what it takes to negotiate expression and commerce in the kingdom: "I had to first get approvals from a religious authority for my superheroes to fly in the Kingdom."
Iraq votes: "Iraqis voted Wednesday in the first elections since the withdrawal of U.S. troops, even as parts of the country remained engulfed in conflict, others drowned under floods, and the specter of terrorists’ bomb threats loomed over polling stations. The parliamentary elections come amid a hemorrhaging security situation as a Sunni insurgency against the Shiite-led government in the western province of Anbar pushed closer to the capital Baghdad. Cars were banned from the streets across the country to deter violence as voting began at 7 a.m."
Actor Bob Hoskins has died: You may remember him from Brazil, The Long Good Friday, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Pennies from Heaven, Last Orders and a bunch of others. Actor Kate Hardie tweeted: "Can't think of many actors who explored masculinity with such tenderness."
There's no war like the drug war: "A spasm of violence has left at least 64 dead throughout the northern state of Tamaulipas this month, according to an Associated Press tally of official and Mexican media reports. That has many worried about a return to the worst days of 2010, when the security wing of the powerful Gulf Cartel turned on its former bosses, forming the breakaway Zetas group that has distinguished itself for butchery. That rivalry simmers along, but authorities say many of the recent killings are the byproduct of a fresh feud between two Gulf Cartel capos, former allies who are struggling for control of cities or stretches of border."
There's no war like the drug war, part two: "A director from the National Institutes of Health warned House lawmakers Tuesday against legalizing marijuana use, saying it could act as a gateway drug. The testimony from Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, highlighted the split among federal agencies on drug policy and comes as the Obama administration takes a hands-off approach to state enforcement of marijuana laws."
Are you normcore or my dad?. "How long have you been rocking those dad jeans? 1. All year. 2. Since 2012. 3. Pants are really your mom’s department."
Now please enjoy this interview, circa 1940, with Blind Willie McTell and Alan Lomax, in which McTell and his guitar give a quick history of the blues and he talks about his life as a blind musician rolling up and down the east coast: