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Rachel Maddow noted Thursday night, "Sometimes the news gods decide that today's news will have a theme. And the news gods decided that for today, the theme is personal bravery." So in two segments, she brings us stories of people who stick their necks out for the sake of doing the right thing.


From Bahrain, she has the story of Zainab al-Khawaja, a human rights activist who was in court yesterday for tearing in half a photo of the king. And although she's eight months pregnant, during her court hearing, she calmly took out another photo of the king and tore it in half right in front of the judge. That's bravery, all right:

Maddow's second story of bravery is closer to home, in Alabama. Last week, four men from an Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal team in Fort Benning, in Georgia, traveled to Birmingham to help remove an explosive device from a 62-year-old man's leg. You don't see a lot of lines like this in the average news story:

The man had apparently been tinkering with some kind of explosive device and it became lodged inside of his leg

Because the device was believed to be a live grenade (it turned out to be a less-explosive smoke round, but that was only determined after it was removed), the hospital wouldn't allow the patient to be brought inside, and so the EMTs sat with the man in their ambulance overnight until the EOD team arrived in the early morning. You've got your choice of heroes in this story: Cameron Padbury, one of the EMTs who stayed with the man all night, and remained to monitor him after the EOD team arrived -- that's him, on the right, wearing body armor borrowed from one of the Army guys; the unidentified ER doctor from University of Alabama Birmingham hospital, who volunteered to go into the ambulance and cut a live grenade out of the patient's leg; and Staff Sgt. David Mensink, the EOD expert who grabbed the grenade and removed it.

It's a hell of a story, and everyone was OK, mostly.

"The guy's fine," said Maddow. "Well, obviously the guy's not fine -- he plays with grenades."

Watch and be awed:

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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Look, it is your afternoon Nice Times at the Supreme Court! It is also your WUT and HUH Times, with Justices Thomas, Sotomayor, Kagan and Gorsuch joining in an opinion by RBG tossing a challenge to Virginia's new, fair districts. Go know!

After the 2010 Census, Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates did what they do best -- they stole more elections, redrawing the electoral map to ensure themselves a supermajority for all eternity. Why let the voters choose their representatives when the representatives can pick their own voters as the founders intended, right? Voters in 12 of the affected districts sued the Virginia State Board of Elections in 2014 to invalidate the districts as illegal racial gerrymanders, and the House of Delegates intervened in Bethune-Hill v. Va. State Bd. of Elections to support the Board and defend its own power.

After extensive litigation including a trip up to the Supreme Court in 2017, the District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia tossed 11 of the districts as illegal racial gerrymanders and ordered the maps redrawn in 2018. At which point, the Commonwealth of Virginia noped out and quit defending the old, craptastic districts, which should have been the end of it.

BUT NO. The Virginia House of Delegates, which is still held by the GOP despite their party netting nine percent fewer votes than Democrats in the 2017 election, vowed to fight on.

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Spinal Tap - Gimme Some Money

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