Venetians have voted overwhelmingly in an unofficial and non-binding referendum to break away from Italy and form their own sovereign state. Eighty-nine percent of voters in the lagoon city and its surrounding area opted to break away. Organizers said that 2.36 million people — 73 percent of those eligible to take part — voted. The proposed new country, the Republic of Venice, would include the five million inhabitants of Italy's Veneto region.
Venice — famous for its canals — has only been part of modern Italy since the 1860s. The 1,000-year–old democratic Republic of Venice was absorbed into modern Italy in 1866 after defeat by Napoleon in the 1790s.
Why does Venice wish to leave now? Campaigners for Venetian independence say it's the economy, stupid. Venice pays €71 billion to Italy's central government in taxes, but receives just €50 billion back in government services. The extra money goes to subsidize poorer regions in Italy's south, which have been hit hard by the economic crisis in the Eurozone.
The result of the vote is not recognized by Italy's government. However, Venice's leadership may now begin withholding tax from Rome. President of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, of the separatist Northern League party, told the Daily Mail that Venetians had lost 85,000 jobs in the crisis and were now hungry for change: "The will for secession is growing ever stronger," he said. "We are only at the Big Bang of the movement — but revolutions are born of hunger and we are now hungry. Venice can now escape." John Aziz
New research suggests that food stamp recipients are more likely to be obese than the rest of the U.S. population.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture study looked at data from thousands of participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted from 2007 to 2010. The researchers found that Americans who received food stamp benefits were more likely to be obese than others, including those who qualified for benefits but didn't receive them.
Of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries surveyed, 40 percent of them were obese. Of the poor who qualified for SNAP benefits but did not receive them, 32 percent were obese, as were 30 percent of higher-income Americans. Food stamp recipients also reported eating less fruits and vegetables and drinking more soda than the rest of the country.
But while food stamp recipients may be eating less healthy foods, the rest of the population isn't doing great, either. The average diet of food stamp recipients scored a 56.8 on the healthy eating index, versus 60.3 for eligible non-participants and 60.2 percent for wealthier people. As The Huffington Post notes, that's "the difference between an F and a D-minus," so most people could stand to improve their diets. Meghan DeMaria
A survey by the Daily Caller of the 2015 commencement speaker choices of the top 25 universities in the country finds that just three have selected a right of center dignitary. Those three are former Secretary of State Colin Powell, scheduled at Rice University; Sen. Shelley Moore Capito at Washington and Lee; and political commentator David Brooks at Dartmouth.
The other 22 schools all selected more liberal speakers, ranging from Arianna Huffington to Obama mega-donor Marc Benioff, and including eleven current or former Democratic politicians and appointees.
Fortunately for conservatives, none of this matters, because no one pays attention to their graduation speaker, anyway. Bonnie Kristian
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Tuesday announced he is running for president, using a kickoff speech to spotlight his Christian faith, conservative beliefs, and gubernatorial experience. Notably absent from Huckabee's pitch to voters, though: Any mention of his most famous backer, the actor, gym equipment salesman, and roundhouse kick master Chuck Norris.
"I still believe Mike Huckabee is the most qualified," Norris told The New York Times. "He has the moral clarity and experience to lead our great country forward."
Norris supported Huckabee in 2008, and cut a memorable ad spot for him riffing on the "Chuck Norris Facts" meme.
Earlier this year, Norris endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the latter's difficult re-election campaign. And last year, he campaigned with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who was then running for a first term. Jon Terbush
In 2010, the Baltimore Police Department requested $200,000 from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to continue funding an officer training program that had improved community-police relations and decreased police shootings. The funding request was declined, and the program shut down in 2012.
But according to the training program's organizer, Adam Walinksy, the DOJ added insult to injury when the same department the Baltimore PD had solicited for help instead gave funding to the production company that made Mr. Roger's Neighborhood to allow them to do a national rollout of their video program on fostering relationships between children and the police.
Walinksy believes Baltimore would have had more beautiful days in the neighborhood lately if the DOJ had supported the training program. "Once they stopped training the officers — stopped their interaction with the community, that all that was left was locking people up, and that's what led to this whole Freddie Gray thing," he says. "It was a nonsense arrest." Bonnie Kristian
Jet-setters, rejoice: Pretty soon, you will no longer have to settle for watching the latest Disney movie or network comedy on your flight. JetBlue has announced a deal with Amazon that will allow Amazon Prime members to get free Wi-Fi on their flights, and the Wi-Fi will be strong enough to allow them to stream any of the thousands of titles on Amazon Prime Instant Video through JetBlue's in-flight entertainment system.
The deal will help both Amazon and JetBlue stand out from their competitors: While Amazon is battling with Netflix and Hulu for subscribers in the online streaming wars, JetBlue is likely trying to position itself as an airline that offers top-notch amenities in an industry where its competitors are cutting out freebies and adding fees.
JetBlue plans to roll out the service on its Airbus A321 and A320 models this year, and on its Embraer E190 aircraft in 2016, so being able to spend an entire cross-country flight binge-watching The Sopranos is just around the corner. Samantha Rollins
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Tuesday announced he is running for president.
"As president I promise you will get what you paid for," Huckabee said at a kickoff event in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas.
In a speech spotlighting his Christian faith, Huckabee took some veiled swipes at Democrats and his rivals for the GOP nomination. He also positioned himself as the strongest candidate on national security, vowing that "hell will freeze over" before Iran acquires a nuclear weapon.
"I promise you that as president, we will no longer try to contain jihadism, we will conquer it," he said.
Huckabee ran for president in 2008, earning a surprise win in the Iowa caucus and for a time threatening to upset more established competitors in Mitt Romney and eventual nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) He considered running again in 2012, but ultimately avoided the race. Jon Terbush
And it's bad news for Ted Cruz. The Washington Post put together a handy infographic based off an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey that asked respondents to indicate their feelings on a variety of traits in a hypothetical 2016 candidate. Here are the results:
As you can see, of the top five least desirable traits in a candidate, three of them apply to Sen. Cruz (R-Texas). But as the Post points out, the survey polled across party affiliations, so it's possible Cruz isn't as doomed in the Republican primary as it seems he would be in the general election. Kimberly Alters