Mar. 4, 2012: Super Tuesday

Here we go. Sure, Mitt Romney may have held the edge in Arizona last week, while Michigan and Wyoming saw him and Rick Santorum almost neck-and-neck. Then, of course, Washington held its caucus yesterday; as of this writing, the contest had not yet been called. But with the all-important Super Tuesday on the horizon, the four remaining Republican contenders in the presidential primaries are instead focusing on delegate-rich states like Ohio and Georgia. With ten states and over 400 of the total 2,286 delegates up for grabs on Mar. 6, the day represents the single biggest prize of the primaries. It may also be the last chance for trailing candidates Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul to climb back into the race — which may work out nicely for Gingrich, who currently holds a double-digit lead in Georgia polls. It should also be noted that Super Tuesday could be a Santorum setback, as he is ineligible to receive some delegates in North Dakota and Ohio due to what was effectively a mistake in his campaign’s application. As Romney’s spokesman Ryan Williams chided,

Rick Santorum has failed to get on the ballot in Virginia, has failed to file full delegate slates in Tennessee, New Hampshire and Illinois, and has failed to submit enough delegates in several Ohio congressional districts. The fact that he cannot execute the simple tasks that are required to win the Republican nomination proves that Rick Santorum is incapable of taking on President [Barack] Obama’s formidable political machine.


In any case, with over 20,000 ballots already in for Super Tuesday’s early polling period and the the promise of more spending this year than in any previous election, we can expect a hotly contested battle this week that may ultimately decide who challenges Obama this November. Very soon, we’ll know who takes the lion’s share of delegates.

Of course, for many of us, the local weather may be a little more pressing than the national news. The death toll is mounting after a string of tornadoes on Friday. With some towns heavily damaged or outright leveled, the search for survivors is underway, and — as many of our Indiana subscribers will want to know — both Indiana and Kentucky are officially in states of emergency. Hopefully none of your families or friends were hurt in last week’s severe weather. Take care out there, everyone.

This week hasn’t brought any major global incidents like last week, but there are still some developing stories to consider. It appears that five U.S. soldiers and a local translator were responsible for the Quran burning last week, which sparked outrage throughout the Middle East that resulted in six U.S. troops being killed. Elsewhere, President Obama is concerned about Iranian plans to develop nuclear weapons, but Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has his own problems, as political rivals are moving to wrest control of parliament from his cronies. Perhaps the most shameful defeat was handed to Ahmadinejad’s younger sister, Parvin Ahmadinejad, in their hometown, Garmsar. Ahmadinejad belongs to what Iran terms its conservative party, and the conservatives technically have a big lead. However, many of those conservatives turned against their president last year after he challenged the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the theocratic ruler who is supposed to be obeyed unconditionally. This has set off an unprecedented power struggle between the two men and their respective supporters.

Syria has been the site of more volatile Middle Eastern turmoil, with rebel fighters battling the Syrian army throughout last week. With their position looking hopeless, the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad urged those around the country to “pray for us.” Nonetheless, it appears that their efforts have fallen short. Dozens of army deserters have already been executed, and with aid blocked to the rebels’ desperate stronghold in Homs, the revolt appears to be nearing its end. Still, the struggle has set off a diplomatic battle between the U.S. and Russia, the latter of which vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution last month. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the February veto “despicable,” blaming Russia for the inevitable “murders” of Syrian “women, children, [and] brave young men.” Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin retaliated, blasting the U.S. for the “bellicose itch” to jump into other countries’ internal squabbles and saying that Russia would stop any American interventions in the Middle East. So much for President Obama’s hope for a “reset” of more cooperative U.S.-Russia relations.

In more positive international news, on Wednesday, North Korea made a surprise announcement that it will suspend its nuclear enrichment and testing program and allow inspectors to monitor its main nuclear complex. The announcement might signal that North Korea’s new ruler, Kim Jong-un, might be more willing to work toward diplomacy than his deceased father and former leader Kim Jong-il. That development has largely been overshadowed, however, by rumors of Kim Jong-un’s assassination spreading over social media sites late last week. Twitter in particular went into a frenzy over the rumor, which has found little support and which U.S. officials have called flatly untrue.

We’ll also continue our coverage of the series of cruise ship disasters that have occurred over the past few weeks. By far, the biggest disaster was January’s Costa Concordia shipwreck off the coast of Italy. The incident resulted in 32 deaths and has unearthed an array of scandals around the ship and its captain. Apparently, Francesco Schettino, who was at the helm of the Costa Concordia on its fateful voyage, damaged the Aida Blu cruise ship in June 2010 by sailing too quickly into the German port of Warnemunde. That’s right: the Costa Concordia wasn’t his first crash. He denied fault for the earlier Aida Blu incident, saying that he “did not know the speed limit.” Remind me to use that excuse the next time I get pulled over.

According to a lawyer for Costa Concordia’s first officer Ciro Ambrosio, Schettino wasn’t wearing his glasses on the night of the accident and asked Ambrosio to check the radar for him. Schettino and others are now facing criminal charges for their roles in the crash — Schettino in particular has been charged with multiple manslaughter — and so many people used their right to attend the first evidence hearing that it had to be held in a local theater instead of the courthouse. While the families search for the truth about the crash, the search for a Canadian woman missing from a Bahamas cruise has been called off. Search and rescue crews ended their 84-hour search of almost 7,300 square miles on Thursday night. Finally, we have a story pointed out to me by one of my students, Tim Jeffrey, earlier this week. The Costa Allegra — which, like the Costa Concordia, is part of the Carnival-owned Costa Cruises line — lost power after an engine room fire and was left adrift in the Indian Ocean. While plans were initially made to abandon the ship, security in the pirate-infested region would have been difficult to ensure. Thankfully, the fire was eventually brought under control, and a small French fishing vessel towed the disabled Costa Allegra to shore.

In tech news, Apple is officially the world’s most valuable company, with a market value that cleared $500 billion on Wednesday — a remarkable feat for a company that sells luxury electronics. The company also claims to have created 514,000 jobs in the U.S., on top of overseas labor like the 230,000 Chinese workers who assemble their devices. Of course, no company has ever stayed above the $500 billion mark for long, and with some consumers already disappointed with the upcoming iPad 3, Apple’s value may decline in a hurry.

How many of you remember the Super Nintendo Entertainment System? Nintendo’s classic console, home of such staples as Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, came to the U.S. in 1991. However, the system hasn’t prompted any big news since 1998, when a ported version of Frogger served as the last cartridge released for the system.

So why are we talking about the SNES now? Because it’s about to get a new release.

No, I’m serious! As Geekologie reports, the development company Super Fighter Team bought the rights to Nightmare Busters, a game whose development was scrapped in 1995, and are preparing for a 2013 release. It will be the first new game released for the system in 15 years. The company is currently taking pre-orders for the first 600 copies of the game, but Super Fighter Team asks “that only the most serious fans participate in the pre-order process.” So if you’re itching to dust off your old SNES and pop in a new cartridge, just send them $68 (or $75 if you’re outside the U.S.) over PayPal (sales@superfighter.com) or money order (Super Fighter Team, P.O. Box 713188, Santee, CA 92072-3188), and you’ll have Nightmare Busters as soon as it’s complete.

Nightmare Busters

In other gaming news, both Apple and Nintendo were shamed a couple of weeks ago when a fake, unlicensed Pokémon app became a bestseller on Apple’s App Store. The 99-cent “Pokemon Yellow” app, created by third-party developer Home of Anime, rocketed to #2 before being pulled. It raked in an estimated $10,000 in the week before it was yanked, a five-figure insult to the control that Apple maintains over its store in order to block disreputable apps like this one. At the same time, it’s yet another reason to question Nintendo’s decision not to publish smartphone applications — after all, if a fake app could make so much money in such a short time, imagine the profits that Nintendo could find with a legitimate piece of software. But even though Nintendo took its first ever operating loss last year, company representatives have repeatedly attacked smartphone games in general, saying that their developers “have no motivation to release high-quality software” and that “cheap, disposable smartphone games are one of the biggest problems facing the games industry today.” They may end up eating those words, unless their upcoming Wii U console is as much of a sensation as the Wii was.

Let’s finish this week with a little more tech news. Take a look at the newest weapon against annoyance, lovingly dubbed the “STFU Gun“:

SpeechJammer

Okay, so it’s not actually called the STFU Gun, despite how catchy the name might be. But the SpeechJammer, devised by scientists at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan, really does make people physically incapable of speech. The device works by recording your speech and playing it back at you a few hundred milliseconds later. The problem is that humans listen to themselves while speaking in order to control their cadence, so when their timing is thrown off by the recording, they are rendered incapable of forming coherent sentences. The effect, called Delayed Auditory Feedback, pushes people into a pattern of stuttering. You may have experienced a similar effect if you’ve ever encountered feedback during a phone call. Interestingly, though, while the SpeechJammer induces stuttering in people with normal speech patterns, it actually seems to alleviate stuttering for those who suffer from the impairment.

That’s enough for this week. If I talk any longer, my fiancee’s going to grab her STFU Gun. Ha ha!… ha.

Other articles of interest:
Davy Jones of The Monkees dead at 66
Snowestorm: Republican’s departure from US Senate sets off scramble in Maine
Federal judge blocks anti-smoking images required on tobacco products
Dark matter blob confounds experts
Black Holes’ Fast-Moving Gas Clouds May Stifle Star Formation
T. rex bite much worse than previously thought
US Kids Consuming Too Much Sugar
The Latest Statin Scare: Are You At Risk?
Radical Camera Lets You Pick What’s Blurry And What’s Not
Facebook Brand Timelines: 6 Big Changes Every Marketer Needs to Understand
Clock counts down as Google privacy change looms

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2 responses to “Mar. 4, 2012: Super Tuesday”

  1. Kelsey Trabue says :

    This is cool that your class blog shows up so high in a google search! I am an editor for TheRecapp.com, a new app review site. I was searching for some blogs that are talking about Super Tuesday. Our team came up with 5 apps that we think are great for staying up-to-date with the elections. Check them out here! <a href="http://www.therecapp.com/app_living/scenario/5_political_news_apps_for_super_tuesday/&quot;

  2. brianbritt says :

    Thanks, Kelsey! Building this blog has been an exciting endeavor, to say the least. It’s been nice to see it grow in such a positive direction.

    I took a look at your site’s apps, and I was impressed with the array of general-purpose apps and the different levels of depth that they offer. It was also nice to see that most of the apps emphasized finding one’s own news across a multitude of sources, a philosophy that I wholeheartedly support given that most individual news outlets and commentators are growing increasingly biased toward one side or the other. Hopefully your team will be able to help a lot of voters make their decisions in the next few days and in the lead-up to the general election.

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