BREAKING – Pennsylvania Judge Blocks Key Parts of Voter ID Law – This morning, a Pennsylvania lower court judge blocked some, but not all, of the state's voter ID law . Voters will still be asked to present IDs at the polls, but those without them will be allowed to cast normal ballots in November. After November, voters without ID will be required to cast provisional ballots. The decision comes after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the lower court's previous decision to allow the state voter ID law to more forward. The high court had ordered the trial judge to reexamine the case to ensure that the voter ID law does not disenfranchise voters. Here's what the lower court judge wrote this morning, "I reject the underlying assertion that the offending activity is the request to produce photo ID; instead, I conclude that the salient offending conduct is voter disenfranchisement. As a result, I will not restrain election officials from asking for photo ID at the polls; rather, I will enjoin enforcement of those parts of Act 18 which directly result in disenfranchisement."
What Romney is Saying Ahead of the Debate – After several days of preparation in Massachusetts, Mitt Romney has arrived in Denver, Colorado, ahead of Wednesday's debate with President Obama on prime-time television. The former governor told supporters the debate is about "something bigger" than whether he or the president out-duel each other. "These debates are an opportunity for each of us to describe the pathway forward for America that we would choose," said Romney. "And the American people are going to have to make their choice as to what kind of America they want. And so I look forward to these debates, I'm delighted that we're going to have three debates, it'll be a conversation with the American people that will span almost an entire month. We'll get to describe our respective views, and I believe the people of Colorado will choose a better way forward for our country. We can't afford four more years like the last four years."
Brown vs. Warren Slugfest – Massachusetts Senate candidates Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown traded barbs for 55 minutes last night, in a far more heated contest than the first debate last month. Warren slammed Brown for his opposition to the DREAM Act, and for his vote against extending the Bush tax cuts for all but the top 2% of income earners. She said the Senator was holding Americans hostage to secure tax breaks the wealthiest Americans. Brown, meanwhile, came out guns blazing on Warren's alleged Native American heritage, and hit Warren for her work as a lawyer for Traveler's insurance, which successfully fought off a class action lawsuit by asbestos victims while they were a client of Warren's. The senator said that the lawsuit showed that Warren is not the fighter for the middle class she says she is. The real sparks came when Brown was asked to name the Supreme Court justice he considers a model. He cited conservative firebrand Antonin Scalia, which drew boos from the audience of 5,700 at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Warren drew applause when she answered Justice Elena Kagan. Meanwhile, when asked to name a Republican with whom she could work, Warren mentioned Richard Lugar of Indiana, who was defeated and will not be in the Senate next year. When she was reminded of this fact, Warren could not name another Republican senator specifically with whom she could collaborate.
So Who Won? According to editor Mike Luciano, who was in attendance in the media press room, "Make no mistake. Elizabeth Warren won this debate, as she and Senator Scott Brown squared off in their second debate on Monday night in the race for U.S. Senate. Tonight's proceedings should give Warren a boost in the polls, especially after Brown committed the amazing mistake of naming Antonin Scalia as his model Supreme Court justice." Rockstar live blogger Caitlin Howarth disagrees: "Tonight's debate won't move the dial much. Voters who would have been persuaded or leaning more to one side after the first debate are likely to trend in the same directions. Brown was still aggressive, Warren less so; neither came across as unlikeable, despite the barbs. And since David Gregory ran the debate like a pageant, it's worth noting that everyone looked very pretty. If the candidates have decided that these debates aren't going to provide the crucial moments to drive wedge issues home, then all eyes should be on the ad buys, the war chests and the ground game. Obama canvassers are likely to prioritize toss-up New Hampshire over safe-bet Massachusetts, as will Romney's camp, leaving both candidates with a lot of ground to cover over the next 30 days."
* Special thank you to Mike, Caitlin, and Elliot Friar for your excellent coverage of last night's debate. We're looking forward to the next and final two contests!
To Believe or Not to Believe the Polls – A new Quinnipiac University Poll shows Barack Obama ahead of Mitt Romney 49-45 percent among likely voters nationwide, but Pundit Jesse Merkel isn't buying it. "It makes for good headlines to keep talking about how Obama is going to trounce Romney … [but] the bounce is gone, and they cannot stack it anymore,” he told me via email earlier today. In his latest article, Merkel reports, "For nearly all of September, the media has been telling GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to take his ball and go home. President Obama had an insurmountable lead that no one would be able to overtake. Now we have a different race emerging magically before our very eyes. According to several polls, the race has tightened up. CNN has Obama only ahead by 3 points, while the latest WaPo/ABC poll has Obama ahead only by 2. Both polls are within the margin of error. Those wildly skewed samples that the nation took notice of last week? Wildly reduced."
50% of the Great Barrier Reef Has Vanished – New research shows half of Australia's Great Barrier Reef has vanished over the past 27 years, an estimated 3.4 percent loss every year. Scientists surveyed 214 different reefs around the Great Barrier Reef, compiling information from 2,258 surveys to determine the rate of decline between 1985 and 2012. The reef’s decline can be explained by several factors, including smashing from tropical cyclones, crown-of-thorns starfish that eat coral, and coral bleaching from high-temperatures, which are rising due to climate change.
Meet the 2012 MacArthur Fellows – This year's 23 MacArthur Fellows have been announced! This year's class includes a pediatric neurosurgeon, a marine ecologist, a journalist, a photographer, a stringed-instrument bow maker, and an arts entrepreneur. All were selected for their creativity, originality, and potential to make a difference. The recipients learned, through a phone call out of the blue from the Foundation, that they will each receive $500,000 in no-strings-attached support over the next five years. Read more about the winners here.
Top PolicyMic Stories – This Will Be Romney's Biggest Problem at the Presidential Debates (David Gray) – President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have their first presidential debate on Wednesday night. What is Romney's biggest problem going into the debates? There is one huge answer to that.
Everything You Know About Iran and Israel is Wrong (Georgi Ivanov) – 5 reasons why current debates about Iran's nuclear policy are completely misinformed and misguided.
The Case for a Romney Presidency and a Democratic Congress (Cory Suter) – Why swing voters who like Romney or Obama’s arguments should vote the Democrats into Congress and vote Romney for president.
Jay-Z Has 99 Problems, and Politics is One (Amy Sterling Casil) – If top Obama supporter Jay-Z is requesting less government and politics, it's about time for everyone to come together and turn the politics off and get down to life and business.
What We’re Reading – Banks picking up donations to Scott Brown (Politico); Google market cap tops Microsoft's (Financial Times); 10 quotes that haunt President Obama (Politico, tip-off: James Hohmann); Lance Armstrong sets record time in first triathlon since lifetime sports ban (Daily Mail); How Pintrest is killing feminism (Buzzfeed); Sign up to electrocute David Blaine (NY Times).