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July 15, 2011

$210 billion
Total damages caused by the 2011 Japan earthquake, making it the costliest natural disaster on record

$125 billion
Total damages caused by Hurricane Katrina, the biggest disaster of 2005 and the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history

Source: The Washington Post The Week Staff

11:41 a.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Ohio is poised to become the first state in the U.S. that actually might make its voters pay out of their own pockets to extend voting hours. On Wednesday, lawmakers approved a bill that would require voters to post a cash bond if they want polling hours extended past the normal cutoff time. Typically, voters submit these sorts of requests to the court if some unforeseen emergency — be it a natural disaster or a power outage — interrupts voting during scheduled hours.

Ohio State Sen. Bill Seitz (R) says the new bill would help cover the costs of keeping polls open later than normal. "Sadly, in both the November 2015 and March 2016 elections, rogue courts in Hamilton County issued orders extending polling hours," Seitz wrote in an op-ed this week. "These orders cost Hamilton County taxpayers $57,000, and forced the inside poll workers to stay around for an extra 60 to 90 minutes after already working a 14-hour day."

Those opposed to the bill argue the extensions weren't exactly requested without reason, however. In November 2015, a software glitch in newly installed systems caused some voters to be turned away without casting a ballot, while in March 2016, a car accident blocked off a main thoroughfare and left many voters stranded on the road during election day. "I think it's unconstitutional," Ohio State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D) told Think Progress about the bond bill. "It's tantamount to a poll tax to require voters to post a cash bond, and we really need to have the ability to petition state or federal courts if there is some type of emergency necessitating the extension of polling hours."

The bill will next move to Ohio Gov. John Kasich's (R) desk, where he'll decide whether to sign it into law. Becca Stanek

10:50 a.m. ET
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Archaeologists working at the site of the ancient city of Stagira in Central Macedonia claim to have discovered the tomb of the great philosopher Aristotle, according to multiple reports by the Greek media. An official announcement is expected to be made by the team at the Aristotle 2400 Years World Congress.

"I have no hard proof, but strong indications lead me to almost certainty," archaeologist Kostas Sismanidis told Sigmalive of the discovery.

Aristotle was born in Stagira in 384 BC and died in 322 BC in Chalcis, where many believed he was buried. However, two literary sources pointed archaeologists to Stagira, where Aristotle's ashes may have later been transferred.

The 2,400-year-old tomb stands in the middle of Stagira with 360-degree views:

The top of the dome is at 10 meters and there is a square floor surrounding a Byzantine tower. A semi-circle wall stands at two meters in height. A pathway leads to the tomb's entrance for those that wished to pay their respects. Other findings included ceramics from the royal pottery workshops and fifty coins dated to the time of Alexander the Great. [Greek Reporter]

The Byzantines later destroyed the tomb and constructed a tower in its place.

Aristotle was a student of Plato, and later tutored Alexander the Great. His work on the natural sciences and metaphysics as well as ethics, government, and the arts have a lasting impact to this day. Jeva Lange

10:38 a.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Just hours after seemingly accepting Sen. Bernie Sanders' challenge for a debate, Donald Trump has already backed out, CBS News reports. On Thursday morning, Trump reportedly said he was just kidding when he agreed on Wednesday night's Jimmy Kimmel Live to face off against Sanders.

Trump initially seemed keen on the idea because "it would have such high ratings," and he figured Sanders "would be easier to beat" than Hillary Clinton. Sanders had already agreed to the debate, tweeting he "look[s] forward to debating Donald Trump in California before the June 7 primary." Becca Stanek

10:33 a.m. ET
iStock

The federal government is spending the great bulk of its technology budget maintaining old — indeed, sometimes wildly outdated — computer systems instead of staying up to date with current advances, finds a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

"Specifically, 5,233 of the government's approximately 7,000 IT investments are spending all of their funds" on running old systems, the GAO said, many of which are considered "moderate to high risk" or outright "obsolete."

Perhaps the most egregious example is the use of eight-inch floppy disks to control nukes. The Pentagon's Strategic Automated Command and Control System, which "coordinates the operational functions of the United States' nuclear forces, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers, and tanker support aircrafts," operates on pre-1970s computers that still store data on giant floppy disks whose contents can be wiped with a magnet.

The Department of Defense says the floppy disks will be phased out by the end of 2017. Bonnie Kristian

10:28 a.m. ET
RINGO CHIU/AFP/Getty Images

Some politicians are painters. Others, the muses.

Bernie Sanders evidently falls in the latter category, as an entire pop-up installation of Sanders-themed media has temporarily taken over a famous vacant L.A. fixture, Johnie's Coffee Shop Restaurant:

"We view this as an art piece," said Howard Gold, who was busy on Wednesday afternoon painting and fixing at the former diner. It closed in 2000, but it is still available for film shoots.

The idea, said Mr. Gold, whose family owns the property, is to deck the place in Sanders murals, posters and diner-style logos — the Bernie Sanders chicken bucket faces Wilshire — then open on Thursday for a reception that is expected to draw artists, movie stars, and Sanders supporters. [The New York Times]

Anticipated attendees include actresses Shailene Woodley and Frances Fisher, as well as film producer and real-life inspiration for The Big Lebowski, Jeff Dowd. Kii Arens, who has done art for The Who and Radiohead, among other bands, is one of the contributing artists as well as Donny Miller.

See more of the art at The Hollywood Reporter. Jeva Lange

10:22 a.m. ET
Mark Lyons/Getty Images

Donald Trump has reached the required 1,237 delegates to clinch the GOP nomination, according to a count by The Associated Press. Trump was pushed to victory by his win in the Washington state primary on Tuesday, and now has 1,238 delegates; other reports, such as one by CNN on Wednesday, have Trump just short of the required number. Unbound delegates exclusively told the AP they would support Trump, thereby tipping him to victory.

Trump became the presumptive nominee earlier this month after a major win in Indiana when his only remaining competitors chose to suspend their campaigns. Jeva Lange

10:15 a.m. ET
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has a vision for the future of the Republican Party, and he is describing it in language Marxists would recognize.

In an an interview with Bloomberg this week in which he commented that his "views are what everybody else’s views are," Trump answered a question about his plans for the GOP. "Five, 10 years from now — different party," he said. "You’re going to have a workers' party."

"Workers' Party" is a common name worldwide for political groups of a Marxist, socialist, communist, Leninist, Maoist, and/or Trotskyite persuasion. The single governing party of North Korea, for instance, is called the "Workers' Party of Korea." And here in the United States, the Communist Party USA was originally called the "Workers Party of America." Bonnie Kristian

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