The Spectacle Blog

NBC’s Brian Williams Probably Didn’t Get Shot At In Iraq

By on 2.5.15 | 11:23AM

There are a lot of things from my earlier years I don't really remember orrectly, largely due to a mix of Country Time Lemonade and cheap vodka, but they're mostly innocous things, like how the cat ended up with a red wine stain on its back, how my furniture ended up in that particular formation, or whether Chicago's baseball team had, in fact, won the World Series sometime in April of 2009. I think, though, if I'd been shot at in a helicopter while covering a story in Iraq, I'd have remembered it correctly. It seems like a big event that people could corroborate, right, so that even if I wasn't clear on the details, someone who'd been there would be.

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Ben Carson Injects Dose of Reason Into Vaccine Discussion

By on 2.4.15 | 2:57PM

I have very strong reservations about the viability of Ben Carson as a presidential candidate. While there are silly and stupid things happening in this country, America ain't Nazi Germany.

Nevertheless, I am glad to see that Carson has injected a dose of reason into the hysteria over vaccines:

Certain communicable diseases have been largely eradicated by immunization policies in this country and we should not allow those diseases to return by foregoing safe immunization programs, for philosophical, religious or other reasons when we have the means to eradicate them.

In recent days, both Chris Christie and Rand Paul (who are usually on the opposite side of things) have both taken heat on comments they have made that vaccines should be voluntary rather than mandatory. Paul got into a shouting match with CNBC's Kelly Evans about it a couple of days ago in which he claimed that vaccines caused "profound mental disorders" in some children.

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Sir Martin Gilbert, R.I.P.

By on 2.4.15 | 12:32PM

British historian Sir Martin Gilbert passed away yesterday after a lengthy illness. He was 78.

Gilbert is best known for being the official biogrpaher of Sir Winston Churchill. Shortly after Churchill's death in 1965, Gilbert was approached by the former Prime Minister's son Randolph Churchill to assist him on writing his father's biography. He would become Churchill's official biographer following Randolph Churchill's death in 1968. Gilbert would go on to write 30 books about Churchill and wrote 80 books in all.

In addition to Churchill, Gilbert also wrote extensively about WWI, WWII, The Holocaust, Jewish history and also published historical atlases. Gilbert would be appointed by then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 to the Chilcot Inquiry which looked into Britain's role in the War in Iraq.

To give you a taste of Gilbert's writing, here is an essay he wrote about The Final Solution from The Oxford Companion to World War II. It begins:

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Ted Cruz Smoked Pot in High School

By on 2.4.15 | 11:44AM

I feel like this has been the week where Presidential contenders drop information about themselves that they feel to be controversial. After all, with the advent of the Internet, October surprises have gotten lamer and lamer, and it's best to get the real stuff out of the way when everyone is fully obsessed with, say, Rand Paul's somewhat-incoherent position on the potential for vaccine injuries. 

Ted Cruz, fearing that the limelight had left his little corner of the high school auditorium, decided this morning to announce that, this one time, at band camp, he tried marijuana. And like the clean-cut 1950s sitcom child he was and is, he hated it and never smoked it again.

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, known for brandishing his staunchly conservative views, coughed up to smoking marijuana as a teenager, NBC News has confirmed.

A spokesperson told the Daily Mail on Tuesday that the potential 2016 presidential candidate tried it in his teens, but did not elaborate on how many times.

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Dead Argentine Prosecutor Drew Up Arrest Warrant for President Fernandez-Kirchner

By on 2.4.15 | 11:20AM

The death of Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman has taken another twist.

A draft of an arrest warrant for Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Foreign Minister Nestor Timerman and several other top government officials was found in a trash can in Nisman's apartment. It should be noted these warrants did not make it into the Nisman's final report.

These revelations come only days after an Argentinian judge declined to hear allegations that Kirchner made a deal with Iran to subvert the investigation into the 1994 bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires which claimed the lives of 85 people.

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King Abdullah Vows to Go All Clint Eastwood on ISIS; Krauthammer Advises Caution

By on 2.4.15 | 10:08AM

In response to the ISIS video showing Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned alive, Jordan has hung two terrorists including Sajida al-Rishawi who was involved the Amman hotel bombings in November 2005.

Jordan had previously been willing to release al-Rishawi in exchange for al-Kaseasbeh. However, Jordan demanded proof of life and the deal went south. It turns out that al-Kaseasbeh was killed on January 3rd.

King Abdullah was in Washington yesterday meeting with President Obama and Congressional leaders when the video was released. According to GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter, Jr., King Abdullah vowed revenge against ISIS and quoted lines from the Clint Eastwood movie Unforgiven.

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It Isn’t Easy Being Stupid

By on 2.3.15 | 7:23PM

A nine-year-old boy has been suspended from the fourth grade of his Odessa, Texas government school for telling a classmate that he could make the classmate disappear through the use of a magic ring.

This flight of childish fancy was animated by Alden Steward, the malefactor in this case, having recently seen The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, and obviously having been charmed by it. No character in the movie warned Alden not to try this at home, let alone at school. 

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Why I Am Concerned About Sudden Resignation of Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister

By on 2.3.15 | 3:56PM

John Baird, who has served in cabinet since Stephen Harper's Conservatives came to power in Canada in 2006 and has been Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2011, resigned suddenly today during a speech in the House of Commons.

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Harper Lee to Publish First Novel in 55 Years

By on 2.3.15 | 3:08PM

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, will publish her first novel since Mockingbird became a Pullitzer Prize sensation in 1960 this July.

The book is titled Go Set a Watchman and although Scout Finch is an adult in this book, it was actually written before To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee said that when she had submitted Go Set a Watchman the publisher was more interested in a story set with Scout as a young girl. The rest is literary history.

The manuscript was believed to have been lost, but was discovered last year by Lee's attorney.

Although Lee has gone more than half a century between publishing books, she hasn't been a total recluse. On occasion, Lee has accepted awards such as when President Bush awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. However, she has long declined to speak in public. Lee will turn 89 in April.

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Note to GOP Candidates: Stop Talking About Vaccines

By on 2.3.15 | 2:12PM

Look, I'm not here to argue the merits of vaccination policy. Frankly, I tend to think that all kids should be vaccinated against illnesses that I only know about because my 8-bit characters died from them on Oregon Trail, but there's more than meets the eye when it comes to the great "vaccine debate" we seem to be having in this country thanks to some people who decided to pack measles in their carry-ons when they visited DisneyLand. 

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