Open thread for night owls: In Wisconsin, the right to vote gets trimmed

In Wisconsin, the Associated Press profiles voters whose votes were stripped from them by the state’s new Republican-instituted voter ID law. There were many.

By one estimate, 300,000 eligible voters in the state lacked valid photo IDs heading into the election; it is unknown how many people did not vote because they didn’t have proper identification. But it is not hard to find the Navy veteran whose out-of-state driver’s license did not suffice, or the dying woman whose license had expired, or the recent graduate whose student ID was deficient — or Harris, who at 66 made her way to her polling place despite chronic lung disease and a torn ligament in her knee.

She had lost her driver’s license just before Election Day. Aware of the new law, she brought her Social Security and Medicare cards as well as a county-issued bus pass that displayed her photo.

Not good enough. She had to cast a provisional ballot that ended up not being counted.

While 300,000 Wisconsin citizens were blocked from voting due to insufficient paperwork, the state is investigating “86 reports of possible voter fraud, of which 70 involved felons who may have voted before having their rights restored.” The Trump administration on Thursday announced  a new voting integrity commission to be headed by Mike Pence and notorious Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach; Kobach has long used the specter of rampant voter fraud to push voter ID laws throughout the nation, despite no evidence that more than a handful of such cases have taken place during any given election.

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The lectures I have gotten about TV news that say “ratings, you idiot” is in the thousands. Do ratings explain this? https://t.co/kEvxp694ki

— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) May 14, 2017

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2003—Osama’s back:

Let’s get to the heart of the matter, the Saudis are scared to death of Osama and even more scared that we will find out how deeply supported Al Qaeda is in Saudi society.

The Bush Administration can neither protect the Saudi princes from themselves nor destroy Al Qaeda.

In the same year that the US devoted its entire military and intelligence apparatus to finding and destroying Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, which has now boiled down to a mobile brewery and some scrapings from a tank, Al Qaeda is not only not destroyed, but nearly as strong as it was on September 10, 2001.

Stories of the return of the Taliban ran in the papers during the Iraq war and were ignored by most people. The pronouncements from Osama have been treated like a trick from the last couple of episodes of 24 and not a real and ongoing threat to national security.

Throwing hundreds of people into our Cuban gulag at Gitmo may have been able to prevent some immediate attacks, but it clearly has not killed the Al Qaeda organization, much less the driving force of Islamic revivalist thought (the proper name for what we call fundamentalism) rampant in the region. Tossing out thousands for minor immigration violations has only caused hardship and resentment in Pakistan and around the Arab world.

And given the absolute ineptness of US policy in Europe over the last year, we find ourselves more isolated and alone than ever.

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for “Netroots Radio.”

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NCAA softball tournament 2017: Bracket and schedule revealed

The Florida Gators are the No. 1 overall seed and host one of 16 regional rounds.

The 2017 NCAA softball tournament bracket was revealed on Sunday night, with 64 teams vying for a chance to become champions of the sport.

Thirty-two teams received automatic bids for winning their conferences, including defending champion Oklahoma, victors in the Big 12. The other 32 teams were selected at large by the NCAA.

The top overall seed is Florida, which finished atop the SEC with a 50-6 mark in 2017.

The 64 teams are split up into 16 different regionals, played at the home site of the top team in each region. The regionals, played from May 18-21, will each produce one winner, with the 16 regional winners paired off for eight super regional matchups. The super regionals are best-of-three series to be played from May 25-28, with the eight winners advancing to the Women’s College World Series, played in Oklahoma City from June 1-7.

Here are the 16 national seeds:

  1. Florida
  2. Arizona
  3. Oregon
  4. Florida State
  5. UCLA
  6. Washington
  7. Auburn
  8. Tennessee
  9. Texas A&M
  10. Oklahoma
  11. Utah
  12. Ole Miss
  13. LSU
  14. Kentucky
  15. Baylor
  16. Alabama

Here are the regional groupings, with the matchups shown below those of the first games of each region. The full 64-team bracket can be found here.

Regionals

Gainesville regional

No. 1 Florida vs. Florida A&M
Florida International vs. Oklahoma State

Tuscaloosa regional

No. 16 Alabama vs. Albany
Minnesota vs. Louisiana Tech

College Station regional

No. 9 Texas A&M vs. Texas Southern
Texas vs. Texas State

Knoxville regional

No. 8 Tennessee vs. Longwood
Ohio State vs. USC Upstate

Los Angeles regional

No 5 UCLA vs. Lehigh
San Jose State vs. Cal State Fullerton

Oxford regional

No. 12 Ole Miss vs. Southern Illinois
Arizona State vs. North Carolina

Baton Rouge regional

No. 13 LSU vs. Fairfield
McNeese vs. UL Lafayette

Tallahassee regional

No. 4 Florida State vs. Princeton
Jacksonville State vs. Georgia

Eugene regional

No. 3 Oregon vs. Illinois Chicago
Wisconsin vs. Missouri

Lexington regional

No. 14 Kentucky vs. DePaul
Illinois vs. Marshall

Salt Lake City regional

No. 11 Utah vs. Fordham
BYU vs. Mississippi State

Seattle regional

No. 6 Washington vs. Montana
Michigan vs. Fresno State

Auburn regional

No. 7 Auburn vs. ETSU
Notre Dame vs. California

Norman regional

No. 10 Oklahoma vs. North Dakota State
Tulsa vs. Arkansas

Waco regional

No. 15 Baylor vs. Kent State
Oregon State vs. James Madison

Tucson regional

No. 2 Arizona vs. New Mexico State
South Carolina vs. St. Francis (PA)


Super regionals

May 25-28

Gainesville winner vs. Tuscaloosa winner

College Station winner vs. Knoxville winner

Los Angeles winner vs. Oxford winner

Baton Rouge winner vs. Tallahassee winner

Eugene winner vs. Lexington winner

Salt Lake City winner vs. Seattle winner

Auburn winner vs. Norman winner

Waco winner vs. Tucson winner

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This Open-World PS4/PC RPG Looks Like Zelda And Has No Combat — Here’s Why

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles catches your eye immediately. With its striking, saturated, stylized scenes, this 3D open-world RPG may remind you of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Developed by a small team (3 staff and 2 contractors) at Australia’s Prideful Sloth, Yonder differentiates itself from that game and others in that it has no combat whatsoever.

We played a portion of the game and visited a new biome, which you can see in the gameplay video above. There are eight biomes in all, so what you’re seeing represents just a slice of what the game offers in terms of diversity and scope. Note that the video was captured on PC.

Zelda was not the only influence for Yonder. Prideful Sloth director Cheryl Vance says Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon were also touchstones throughout the game’s development, something that becomes obvious when you dig into the game’s farming system and meet the animals that inhabit the world. Additionally, she mentions a game that might surprise you: Shadow of the Colossus.

“Shadow of the Colossus was really impactful for me from the point of view of how beautiful and empty the world was, and you still enjoyed being in it,” Vance said. “Between us and the contractors, we’ve probably got 100 gaming years under our belts–so a lot of influences in small, little ways, too. So many different things.”

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Your goal in Yonder is to clear out the “Murk,” an evil presence that physically blocks your progression, by collecting sprites throughout the world of Gemea. Sprites are scattered throughout the world, and you also need to complete quests, including farming, to get what you need.

At the start of our gameplay demo, we came across a creature that looked like a buffalo who was chomping down on grass and minding his own business in the middle of a grassy field. Upon approaching the creature, it turned its back and shied away. To obtain the affection of a creature you must find the food it likes. After doing that, floating hearts appear and you’re likely to let out an ‘Awww’ the first time you see this animation. After you’ve befriended an animal, you can lead it back to your farm where it will stay. You can customize the look and layout of your farm, placing items like stables and stalls on a grid system to your liking.

You must also grow crops, and collect items on quests (including things like gathering wood and cooking food) to curry favor with locals and get the items you need to eradicate the Murk. The Murk descended on Gemea due to an item called the Cloud Catcher becoming corrupted. It is your job to restore it and bring the world to peace again.

But why no combat? Vance told GameSpot that not including combat helps the game potentially appeal to a wider audience.

“That really came down to more of the influence of Harvest Moon and things like it…it’s just more of a thing of going, ‘What can we do and not wanting to put it in there was sort of the pillar we have, which is the called the ‘safe, inviting world.’ It’s more about being able to load it, not run five minutes, and then get splattered. Our focus was the Nintendo audience, initially, [but now] it’s broadened past that, which is nice to see.”

Yonder has been purposefully designed to cater to a more casual crowd; those who want to pick up and play and not get frustrated with challenging controls.

“Not everybody wants to die. Once you get into the world, it doesn’t feel like [combat] needs to be there. It’s not something…it would feel odd, putting it in,” Vance said.

Combat can sometimes, for some games, “get in the way” of the story, she explained.

While our Yonder demo was limited to a particular section of the larger world map, when the game launches, people will be able to basically run from one end to the other right from the start. It is this kind of freedom that Vance and Prideful Sloth wanted to emphasize, and combat was seen as something that could have gotten in the way of that open-endedness, she said.

There is a full day/night cycle in Yonder (some objectives and activities are only available at certain times of the day), as well as environmental effects such as rain. On top of that, Yonder has seasons, though our one-hour gameplay demo only brought us six days into the game world, so we did not see how the world changes with each season. One example Vance provided of how a particular season can impact gameplay is that in the winter, lakes will freeze, allowing you to cross where you otherwise could not.

The camera in Yonder is a treat. Presented from a third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective, Yonder’s camera is set far enough off the character to provide a wide field of view. Sometimes the camera is low to the ground, which provides a nice effect that frames the world in such a way that you can take in more of what’s around you. Prideful Sloth worked with John Nesky, who worked on the camera features for thatgamecompany’s acclaimed adventure game Journey.

Yonder launches on July 18 for PlayStation 4 and PC. Prideful Sloth is considering other platforms, though that will depend on if the game is successful. There are only two programmers at Prideful Sloth, Vance reminded us.

Here are some other things you might find interesting about Yonder:

  • When you jump off a high space, you float to the ground with an umbrella.
  • Tools do not break, so once you have an item in your inventory it will always work.
  • Yonder also has a trading/currency system; You can trade items you collect in the world to merchants or sell them.
  • The in-game economy, which is still being tweaked, Vance told us, will respond to your decisions. Flood the market with a lot of one item and its value will drop.
  • The creatures have silly names, including the Fabbit–which is a fat rabbit.
  • Prideful Sloth has a lot of ideas for what it could do for DLC or a sequel, if the first game is a hit.
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