Federal judge Peter Economus ruled today that a Republican law to curtail in-person early voting, in which people can vote in Ohio up until the Monday before election day, was unconstitutional:
The law had made an exception allowing for in-person early voting over that final weekend for military personnel, voters who fell under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act, or UOCAVA. Supporters of the law said that eliminating early voting over those final three days could hurt those voters who otherwise might have more limited access to voting.
But the judge took a different view, saying that opening in-person early voting over those final three days to all voters would not harm those military families. Instead, Economus said the only harm to those voters was that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, had not set uniform hours for voting over that final weekend.
"This court notes that restoring in-person early voting to all Ohio voters through the Monday before Election Day does not deprive UOCAVA voters from early voting," the judge ruled. "Instead, and more importantly, it places all Ohio voters on equal standing."
Ohio, like many Republican-controlled states, has taken steps to limit the voting rights of exactly those citizens most likely to vote for Democrats. Since the Republican platform is remarkably unpopular once people get to know it, this is their "plan B." It would be sad, if it weren't fundamentally wrong.
American Airlines and US Airways announced this morning that they've signed a non-disclosure agreement, a concrete step towards merging the corporations:
The non-disclosure agreement also means the companies won't be providing more announcements regarding the status of discussions until there's a merger deal or they call off talks, the airlines said.
The airline companies said they would work in "close collaboration" and "good faith" to evaluate a merger, including working with the creditors committee of AMR, which is in bankruptcy protection.
The companies note there's no guarantee a merger will result from discussions.
No guarantee, sure; but with American's unions openly supporting the merger, and with the reality that failing to merge with US Airways would mean the end of American within 10 years or so, this is very encouraging.
And as an American elite frequent flyer, I really hope they tie the knot.
I can't tell whether South Carolina U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham was speaking plainly or criticizing his party's tin ear when he said yesterday, "We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term." The Washington Post puts this in context:
Exit polls from 2008 showed that 90 percent of GOP voters were white, a homogeneity that has been consistent for more than 30 years, even as the percentage of the electorate that is white has fallen.
Nonwhite voters favored Obama over Romney by better than three to one in a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll from early August; 74 percent of Latino voters and 90 percent of African Americans backed Obama.
And despite a speaker lineup in Tampa that includes Artur Davis, a black former Democratic congressman; former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice; and Utah congressional candidate Mia Love, who would be the party’s first black congresswoman if she won in November, just 2 percent of convention delegates are black.
That’s according to an analysis by David Bositis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Bositis also said that only two members of the 165-member RNC are black and that none of the leaders of the committees responsible for drafting the GOP platform and adopting the convention rules are black.
“This Republican Party base is white, aging and dying off,” he said.
This couldn't have anything to do with the party's takeover by its loony right fringe, could it? Or the predictable outcome of Nixon's and Reagan's Southern strategy? Nah.
United Airlines will start flying the airplane on its Chicago to Houston route this fall:
The first 787 Chicago flights to Houston will begin Nov. 4 and end Dec. 3. That service will operate six days a week during that time, with the Chicago flight departing at 11:15 a.m. After that, daily service will restart Jan. 4 and run to March 29.
Though the initial routes are temporary, United is likely to regularly fly 787s out of O'Hare eventually, especially as it takes delivery of more planes. United will take delivery of five planes this year from its total order of 50.
United is also flying the planes from Houston to San Francisco, so if I wanted to see how the other half lives (I almost always fly American), I suppose I could book my Thanksgiving travel on United. I'll see how much tickets cost Saturday morning, when they go on sale. Even though I'd feel like I'm cheating on my airline, I'd love to get on one of the new planes before American starts flying them in 2014.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow just announced sweeping changes to the visas that Americans can get to visit Russia:
Starting September 9, Russian and American travelers for business or tourism will be eligible to receive visas valid for multiple entries during a period of 36 months. The agreement also outlines other simplifications in the bilateral visa regime and eases visa processing time for travelers from both countries.
Thanks to the agreement, three-year, multiple-entry visas will become the standard “default” terms for U.S. citizens visiting Russia and Russian citizens visiting the United States. No formal invitation will be required to apply for a business or tourism visa, although applicants seeking Russian tourist visas must continue to hold advance lodging reservations and arrangements with a tour operator. Both sides have also committed to keep standard visa processing times under 15 days, although the circumstances of individual cases may require additional processing.
When I visited Russia in 2010, the visa application required the actual dates and modes of travel, and an official invitation from the hotel. Russian visas were only valid for the dates on the application, so missing a flight or train could cause serious difficulties crossing the border. (I saved a pdf of the rules in effect through September 9th.)
I'll be interested to see if Russian tourism picks up with this liberalization scheme.
Science Guy Bill Nye keeps calm and carries on:
The Wind Map is one of the coolest things I've ever seen:
And apparently, Isaac is going to hit Valparaiso (and, um, us):
Hurricane Isaac is about to come ashore in New Orleans (check out the current wind map for an arresting view), and by Friday night will be giving Illinois some much-needed rain:
As of noon on Monday, August 27, the track of Hurricane Isaac could pass through Illinois on Saturday. Of course, it won’t be a hurricane – just a tropical depression. Even so, large rainfall amounts are expected to fall in parts of Illinois and Missouri.
Then, for Labor Day Weekend, it looks to bake and then soak Chicago:
Post-landfall, the storm is expected to track north up the Mississippi Valley, spreading its torrential downpours into the Midwest with the heavy rain reaching the Chicago area by the weekend.
Prior to the rain, sinking air in advance of the storm should help boost Chicago temperatures into the mid-90s Thursday and Friday. That would raise the city's total of 32°C-plus days to 45, two shy of the record 47 logged in 1988. The heat is expected to solidify this summer's spot as the city's third hottest summer, behind 1955 and 1995 for the June-August meteorological summer period.
After installing Windows 8 yesterday, I discovered some interaction problems with my main tool, Visual Studio 2012. Debugging Azure has suddenly become difficult. So after installing the OS upgrade, I spent about five hours re-installing or repairing a whole bunch of other apps, and I'm not even sure I found the causes of the problems.
The next step is to install new WiFi drivers. But seriously, I'm only a few troubleshooting steps from rebuilding the computer from scratch back on Windows 7.
Cue the cursing...
This morning I installed Microsoft Windows 8 on my laptop. As a professional geek, getting software after it's released to manufacturing but before the general public is a favorite part of my job.
It took almost no effort to set up, and I figured out the interface in just a few minutes. I like the new look, especially the active content on the Start screen. It definitely has a more mobile-computing look than previous Windows versions, with larger click targets (optimized for touch screens) and tons of integration with Windows Accounts. I haven't linked much to my LiveID yet, as I don't really want to share that much with Microsoft, but I'll need it to use SkyDrive and to rate and review the new features.
I also did laundry, vacuumed, cleaned out all my old programming books (anyone want a copy of Inside C# 2 from 2002?), and will now go shopping. And I promise never to share that level of picayune personal detail again on this blog.