Lazy Saturday Reads: Ebola, Texas, and Crazed Republicans

Boston Coffee shop

Good Day!!

There are two confirmed cases of Ebola contracted within the U.S., and now we have an “Ebola Czar.” President Obama has named Ron Klain, a lawyer and political operative who most recently served as “president of Case Holdings, which manages the assets of AOL founder Steve Case, and general counsel of Case’s venture capital firm, Revolution.” Before that, according to USA Today, he worked for a lobbying firm, but not as a registered lobbyist. And before that,

He was the chief of staff for two vice presidents, Joe Biden and Al Gore, and one attorney general, Janet Reno. He served as a senior White House aide to President Obama….

As Biden’s chief of staff, Klain had a key role in implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and signed off on one of its most controversial projects: a $535 million loan guarantee to solar panel maker Solyndra.

“Sounds like there are some risk factors here — but that’s true of any innovative company that POTUS would visit,” Klain wrote to Department of Energy officials May 24, 2010, a day before Obama visited a company factory. “It looks like it is OK to me, but if you feel otherwise, let me know.”

Earlier in his career, he served as the staff director of the Senate Democratic Leadership Committee and chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee….

Klain served as the top lawyer on the Gore-Lieberman Recount Committee after the 2000 election and was portrayed by actor Kevin Spacey in the 2008 film Recount.

Boston Common Coffee Company

He has no experience with health care issues or control of infectious diseases. Maybe Obama just did this to throw a bone to crazy Republicans, but it’s not working. They’re predictably attacking the choice. On the other hand, good old Beltway Bob Ezra Klein thinks Klain is a perfect pick.

Something I learned during the first two years of the Obama administration, when the staff infighting was at its worst: if you wanted to get somebody to say something nice, ask them about Ron Klain.

Klain entered the administration as Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff. This was, itself, notable: Klain has been chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore, too, making him the only person to serve in that position for two different vice presidents.

 But the esteem for Klain wasn’t based on his resume. Rather, he had a mix of policy, political and bureaucratic chops that everyone agreed was rare. The policy people spoke admiringly of his policy savvy, and they all agreed he lapped them in political instincts. The political people admired his political instincts, but recognized he was better at policy. And everyone agreed Klain knew how to run an interagency process.

Okay . . .

The Ebola response involves various arms of the Department of Health and Human Services (particularly, though not solely, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the Pentagon, the State Department, the National Security Council, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, President Obama’s office, private stakeholders, and many, many more.

The “czar” position requires someone who knows how these different agencies and institutions work, who’s got the stature to corral their efforts, who knows who to call when something unusual is needed, who can keep the policy straight….

I’ve seen some people arguing that there would be no need for an Ebola Czar if the Senate would simply confirm Dr. Vivek Murthy, Obama’s nominee for surgeon general, who’s being blocked because the National Rifle Association doesn’t believe gun violence is a public-health issue. Murthy should be confirmed, but it would be a mistake to make him Ebola czar; he’s a newcomer to government, and would need to learn, on the job, how to manage the various agencies and principals involved in the response effort. He’d likely get sidelined as players with more weight and bureaucratic skill began going around him.

Actual government experience is badly underrated in Washington. Politicians run for office promising that they know how to run businesses, not Senate offices. “Bureaucrat” is often lobbed as an insult. But in processes like this one, government experience really matters.

Maybe Klein is right. He makes some good arguments anyway.

BostonCoffee_000

Scott Brown seems to believe a venture capitalist is what’s called for. Brown had this to say yesterday: “We Would Not Be Worrying About Ebola Right Now” If Romney Won.

Scott Brown told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade Friday that Ebola wouldn’t be a problem for America if Mitt Romney had won in 2012.

“Gosh can you imagine if Mitt was the president right now?” Brown said. “He was right on Russia, he was right on Obamacare, he was right on the economy. And I guarantee you we would not be worrying about Ebola right now and, you know, worrying about our foreign policy screw ups.”

Golly gee willikers, Batman! You can watch the interview at the Buzzfeed link above. New Hampshire Republican agree, according to The Washington Post.

It’s interesting that Texas politicians are attacking Obama’s Ebola response so vehemently. You’d think they would be more concerned about how a Dallas hospital sent Thomas Duncan home with a 103 degree fever, even though he told them he had just arrived from Liberia. And how they let nearly 80 hospital workers care for Duncan for days without any special protective gear. And how they let people who had been exposed to Duncan’s bodily fluids travel travel by air and sea to possibly expose hundreds of other people. But no. Gov. Rick Perry, who could have stopped exposed Texans from traveling, went to Europe during the Ebola crisis and now says President Obama should have handled Texas’ problem for him.

And then there’s Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Here’s what he had to say about the new Ebola Czar. I’m not going to link to it, because it’s at Newsmax:

“We don’t need another so-called ‘czar'; we need presidential leadership. This is a public health crisis and the answer isn’t another White House political operative. The answer is a commander-in-chief who stands up and leads, banning flights from Ebola-afflicted nations and acting decisively to secure our southern border.”

Kaili Joy Gray at Wonkette: President Doctor Ted Cruz Is The Only Cure For Ebola.

Remember that time Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Canada) was all, “Say health care one more time, and I will shut this government DOWN!” and also something about Green Eggs and Ham and Nazis?

Nuh uh, no you do not, because Cruz would never be so reckless and irresponsible as to suggest the government should have nothing to do with health care because FREEDOM. That’s not leadership, and Cruz is all about leadership. Especially the presidential kind, cough cough, wink wink, nudge nudge, YEAH WE KNOW, CRUZ WANTS TO BE PRESIDENT!

That’s why Cruz is leadershipping so hard in response to President Obama’s announcement that he will appoint an Ebola czar to coordinate all the government agencies tasked with dealing with this mess (which is mostly in Africa, but that doesn’t count). Obama had to Do A Thing because the entire rightwing will not shut up about it. The folks at Fox and on the interwebs know for A Fact we are all dying this second of the terrifying African disease from Africa, spread by African Africans just like Obama, who is African and hates America and dear lord will these people never stop? (No. The answer is no.) ….

Right on, amen, and hells yes! Right now — and at no other time in history — the government has a duty to Do A Thing about Americans facing a public health crisis. And if stupid Obama insists on listening to the director of the Centers for Disease Control instead of Bill O’Reilly, Cruz will have no choice but to launch his 2016 presidential campaign right this second to save America.

And really, who better to just now discover the government serves a purpose and should maybe sometimes do stuff than the guy who wanted to shut it down because doing stuff is the last thing the government should ever do?

Honestly, I’m think some crazy Republicans would like to cause an epidemic just to spite Obama.

caffe-lil-italy_boston

By the way, have you heard there’s been another screw up at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital? A patient who might have Ebola was transferred to the hospital from Baylor Hospital, and then went missing after Presbyterian sent him on his way.

On Friday morning Baylor Hospital in Dallas confirmed a patient with ‘Ebola similar’ symptoms also triggered positive on a verbal screening questionnaire.

Although a positive blood test has not been confirmed, sources say it’s not unusual to have a patient screen positive considering the wider net for Ebola now over Dallas. A positive screening means the patient met some of the criteria to cause concern.

According to Baylor, it was the answers to some of the screening questions — like if a person had been in contact with a known Ebola patient — that triggered the standing protocol by Dallas County Health and Human Services that the person be transferred to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas,  presumably for further, complete testing.

A source at Baylor said the patient came to the Emergency Room through a private entrance and was then immediately put into isolation.

According to a statement released by Texas Presbyterian, via The Boston Globe,

“The patient was placed in isolation at Texas Health Dallas and evaluated with all appropriate precautions,” the statement read. “The patient was determined to be low risk and wanted to leave the hospital. The CDC and Texas Department of State Health Services were advised of this and did not feel it was necessary to have her detained.”

However, the Globe learned that earlier,

Spokespeople for Texas Health Presbyterian told local news stations that they had not received a transfer patient and could not say whether the patient had been treated or released. There is no confirmation that this patient has Ebola. Texas Health Presbyterian has not responded to Boston.com request for comment.

WTF?! Someone in authority in Texas needs to make sure Texas Presbyterian is not involved with anymore suspected Ebola patients. Period. But Gov. Perry is too busy blaming everything on President Obama to do anything useful in his own state. Where is this patient? Are we really sure she is OK?

More insane Republican responses to the Ebola mess: CNN has a list, What’s more disturbing than Ebola? The outrageous commentary. Here’s just one example from Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia:

“The most comforting thing that I heard from (Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health) was that water kills the Ebola virus. I’ve never heard that before. I thought it was something that was so contagious there wasn’t much you could do to prevent it or anything else, so her advice was ‘wash your hands.’ “Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal told the Marietta Daily Journal.

From the experts:

“As with other infectious diseases, one of the most important preventive measures is frequent hand-washing. Use soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol when soap and water aren’t available,” the Mayo Clinic said about the prevention and spread of Ebola infection.

Read more at the link.

coffee_shop_by_flobelebelebobele-d5o4398

And then there’s Peggy Noonan. She thinks Megyn Kelly of Fox News knows more about preventing Ebola than CDC Director Tom Frieden. Here’s Simon Meloy at Salon on Noonan’s solutions: Peggy Noonan’s plan to save America: Think like an 11-year-old.

We need a travel ban, Ms. Noonan observes, drawing deeply from her vast reservoirs of disease-control expertise. “If we don’t momentarily close the door to citizens of the affected nations, it is certain that more cases will come into the U.S.” It is certain! They will come here with their disease. They will come to America. You may be inclined to note that the broad consensus among public health officials is that closing off West Africa will only make the epidemic there worse, which will in turn increase the risk of transmission to America. The petulant naysayers among you may be wont to point out that imposing a flight ban will only make it harder to track the movements and contacts of potentially infected persons.

But that’s just more gobbledygook, more amphigory, more hurbledy-burbledy. That, as Ms. Noonan writes, is how the government talks, and “everyone who speaks for the government on this issue has been instructed to imagine his audience as anxious children.” No … instead of speaking like children, writes Ms. Noonan, we should bethinking like children:

It is one thing that Dr. Frieden, and those who are presumably making the big decisions, have been so far incapable of making a believable and compelling case for not instituting a ban. A separate issue is how poor a decision it is. To call it childish would be unfair to children. In fact, if you had a group of 11-year-olds, they would surely have a superior answer to the question: “Sick people are coming through the door of the house, and we are not sure how to make them well. Meanwhile they are starting to make us sick, too. What is the first thing to do?”

The children would reply: “Close the door.” One would add: “Just for a while, while you figure out how to treat everyone getting sick.” Another might say: “And keep going outside the door in protective clothing with medical help.” Eleven-year-olds would get this one right without a lot of struggle.

Yes! Trust in the wisdom of 11-year-olds. Unlike disease control officials, they are not burdened by years of experience in dealing with outbreaks, and the things they say are generally easier to understand. And whose heart is not warmed by the delicate innocence of a child’s words as imagined by a former Reagan official?

Much more insanity at the link.

I know there’s lots more news happening, but I’m so fascinated by the crazy responses to Ebola that I just can’t stop reading about them. Please let us know know else is happening in the comment thread, and have a nice weekend.


Friday Reads

morning-coffee

Good Morning!!

 

I’m going to begin with some good news today.

It looks like the coming winter will be on the mild side. From Discovery News: Winter Forecast for US Nothing to Shiver About.

Don’t expect the polar vortex to pummel the eastern United States this winter, government scientists said today (Oct. 16).

Overall, forecasters expect mild winter conditions across much of the United States, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said as they issued their annual winter weather outlook.

While there’s always a chance that the polar jet stream will again funnel frigid Arctic air south toward the United States, nothing in the new forecast indicates a rerun of the persistent patterns responsible for the “polar vortex.” “We do not expect to see a repeat of last winter,” said Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

Developing El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean will influence this year’s winter weather, with wet conditions forecast from Southern California to South Carolina, and dry conditions expected across the North. Temperatures will be warmer than average in the West and in New England, but colder in the South from Texas east to Florida, according to the forecast.

I hope they’re right!

Now for the latest Ebola news . . .

AP_EBOLA_HOSPITAL_141015_DG_4x3_992

Why can’t Dallas hospital workers just stay home until they’re cleared? From The Washington Post: Texas hospital worker quarantined on cruise ship in Caribbean.

A Texas health-care worker who “may have” handled lab specimens from Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan has been isolated on board a Carnival cruise ship in the Caribbean. The worker has shown no symptoms of the disease, according to Carnival, which said it is in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control. A Carnival spokeswoman said the guest, who was not named, will remain on board in voluntary isolation until the ship returns to its home port of Galveston on Sunday.

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital employee and a partner boarded the ship Oct. 12 in Galveston, Tex., before the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated the requirement for active monitoring, the State Department said in a statement. Although the worker is healthy, the U.S. government is working with the cruise line to get the ship back to America “out of an abundance of caution.”

The employee, who has not been named, did not come into direct contact with Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. However, he or she may have been exposed to his clinical specimens, the State Department said.

“It has been 19 days since the passenger may have processed” Duncan’s fluid samples, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement early Friday morning. “The cruise line has actively supported CDC’s efforts to speak with the individual, whom the cruise ship’s medical doctor has monitored and confirmed was in good health. Following this examination, the hospital employee and traveling partner have voluntarily remained isolated in a cabin.”

Belize refused to allow the woman (gender identified by news release) to be leave the ship so she could be evacuated by the U.S.

In its own statement Thursday, the the Belize government said it “was contacted today by officers of the U.S. Government and made aware of a cruise ship passenger considered of very low risk for Ebola….Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the Government of Belize decided not to facilitate a U.S. request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Phillip Goldson International Airport.”

Now that the horses are out of the barn, so to speak, officials in Texas have decided to close the barn doors. From USA Today: Travel Ban for Texas health care workers in Ebola case.

Texas health officials have ordered any person who entered the room of the first Ebola patient at a Dallas hospital not to travel by public transport, including planes ship, buses or trains, or visit groceries, restaurants or theaters for 21 days, until the danger of developing Ebola has passed.

The instructions, issued by the Texas Department of State Health Service late Thursday, cover more than 70 health workers involved in providing care for Thomas Duncan, the Liberian national who became the first patient to test positive for Ebola in the United States.

Duncan died Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

The hospital workers were ordered to undergo monitoring twice a day, including one face-to-face encounter.

The health department said anyone failing to adhere to the rules “may be subject to a communicable disease control order.” The health workers were asked to sign a written acknowledgement of the directions when they appear for monitoring.

Amber Vinson

Amber Vinson

According to The Hill, the CDC has now decided it needs to talk to passengers who were on Amber Vinson’s flight from Dallas to Cleveland. Vinson is the second nurse to come down with Ebola after caring for Thomas Duncan, who died of the disease last week.

After reports that she may have shown symptoms on her flight back to Dallas, the CDC asked those passengers to contact the agency. But in a release Thursday night, the CDC expanded that notification to include passengers on Vinson’s flight to Cleveland. The agency said that it wants to interview passengers and that “individuals who are determined to be at any potential risk will be actively monitored.”

Ebola is contagious once an infected person starts exhibiting symptoms, so the CDC wants to keep tabs on anyone that could have come into contact with Vinson when those symptoms began. She traveled to Cleveland on Oct. 10 and returned on Oct. 13, the day before she reported her symptoms to the CDC.

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives decided to get involved in the Ebola crisis, and it wasn’t pretty. BloombergPolitics compiled The Five Worst Questions from the House Ebola Hearing. According to the article, Democrats are wrong to claim that lack of funding made the situation worse. Republicans obsessed over banning travel into the U.S. and “securing the borders.” But the most ludicrous question came from Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA).

Representative Morgan Griffith wanted to know if humans can catch Ebola from dogs, and Frieden said there were no known incidents. But still, the Virginia Republican wanted to know if we could stem the flow of West African dogs traveling into America.

“Don’t you think we ought to at least restrict travel of dogs?” he asked.

“Um,” Frieden replied. “We’ll follow up in terms of what’s possible.”

In addition, President Obama held an “emergency meeting” at the White House yesterday.

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama said he was considering appointing an Ebola “czar” to coordinate the fight against the virus in the United States, but he remained opposed to a ban on travel from West Africa.

Obama’s administration is facing sharp criticism from lawmakers over its efforts to contain the disease at home. Obama authorized calling up military reservists for the U.S. fight against Ebola in West Africa on Thursday….

“It may be appropriate for me to appoint an additional person” to oversee efforts to contain Ebola, Obama told reporters, adding that experts have told him “a flat-out travel ban is not the way to go” because current screening measures at airports are working.

He said he had no philosophical objection to a travel ban but that some travelers might attempt to enter the United States by avoiding screening measures, which could lead to more Ebola cases, not fewer.

randpaul1

A final dose of stupid came from Sen. Rand Paul, who told an audience of college students that you could catch Ebola by standing three feet from someone who is infected.

His comments directly conflict with statements from world health authorities who have dealt with Ebola outbreaks since 1976.

Paul…made his comments during a stop at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire Wednesday. In his remarks, he called Ebola “incredibly contagious” and suggested it could spread at a cocktail party attended by someone who is symptomatic, according to CNN video footage….

“You’re not going to get AIDS at a cocktail party. No one’s going to cough on you and you’re going to get AIDS. Everybody knows that. That’s what they make it sound exactly like,” Paul, a doctor and potential presidential contender, said Thursday at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. “But then you listen to them closely, they say you have to have direct contact. But you know how they define direct contact? Being within three feet of someone.”

World health authorities have been clear that Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids, and that blood, vomit and feces carry the most virus. Health workers are at particular risk because in the course of caring for patients, they draw blood and clean up diarrhea when the patients are most infectious. Likewise in the epidemic zone in West Africa, people involved with burials of highly infectious bodies are at high risk.

In other news . . .

Bill Clinton is heading down to Louisiana on Monday to stump for Mary Landrieu, according to Politico.

Former President Bill Clinton will campaign in Louisiana Monday with Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, joining the endangered incumbent in the state capital of Baton Rouge.

Clinton, unlike President Barack Obama, can be an effective surrogate in the red Southern states where the Democratic majority hangs in the balance.

The visit, Clinton’s second for Landrieu this election cycle, comes a day before the start of early voting, which runs from October 21-28.

Bill Clinton stumps for Coakley

I’ve been hoping Bill would find time to come to Massachusetts to campaign for Martha Coakley for Governor, and what do you know? He blew through here yesterday! He spoke at Clark University in Worcester.

WORCESTER — Former President Bill Clinton told a capacity crowd at Clark University today that elections are just one big job interview.

Speaking in Worcester in support of Martha Coakley’s run for governor, Mr. Clinton said Ms. Coakley’s actions and advocacy as attorney general indicate how well she will perform once she completes that job interview.

“All you’ve got to do,” he told more than 800 people who waited in a line the length of the Main South campus in monsoon-like conditions to get into Atwood Hall, “is increase the number of employers who make the hiring decision.”

Ms. Coakley, a Democrat, and her running mate, Steve Kerrigan of Lancaster, are in a tight race with Republican Charlie Baker and his running mate, Karyn Polito of Shrewsbury. Mr. Clinton tried to convince the crowd they had the potential to make it a landslide.

“I don’t care what the polls say, she can win this race handily if you want it bad enough,” Mr. Clinton said.

Now we just need Hillary to show up.

How about a little economics news? It seems people in Europe are getting fed up with Angela Merkel’s austerity obsession, according to the NYT. I can’t excerpt from the piece, but here’s a report from The Local in Italy:

Italy and France on Thursday reacted to turmoil in global stock markets by stepping up their calls for the European Union to switch course to focus on growth, not on balancing budgets.

But their calls were once again batted away by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who insisted the way out of the crisis was for all eurozone states to stick to agreed rules on the size of their deficits.

In the latest salvos in a simmering row that is set to come to head at a summit of EU leaders next week, Rome and Paris went on the offensive on the sidelines of the ASEM meeting in Milan.

“We in a very delicate moment in terms of the international economic and financial situation,” Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said.

“Which is all the more reason for Europe to show itself capable of producing an economic response based on investment in growth and not only on rigour and austerity,” Renzi said.

He also said a “focus on growth” was recommended by the IMF – “and they don’t seem to be dangerous communists to me”.

merks2_2396548b

According to UK Reuters, the U.S. has warned Europe about the possibility of deflation.

The United States on Wednesday renewed a warning that Europe risks falling into a downward spiral of falling wages and prices, saying recent actions by the European Central Bank may not be enough to ward off deflation.

In a semiannual report to Congress, the U.S. Treasury Department also said Berlin could do more to help Europe, namely by boosting demand in the German economy, Europe’s largest.

“Europe faces the risk of a prolonged period of substantially below-target inflation or outright deflation,” the Treasury said.

The Guardian today published a summary of Europe’s “five years of economic crisis.”

Finally, Janet Yellen has expressed concern over growing economic inequality in the U.S. Reuters reports:

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Friday the growth of economic inequality in the United States “greatly” concerned her, and suggested in a detailed speech on the politically charged issue that Americans should ask whether it was compatible with their values.

With global financial markets rebounding from days of frenzied selling, Yellen did not comment on the volatility or on monetary policy. Instead she focused on the gulf between rich and poor that has only grown wider over the last several decades and, she said, through the U.S. economic recovery.

“The extent of and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concern me,” Yellen told a conference on inequality at the Boston branch of the central bank.

“It is no secret that the past few decades of widening inequality can be summed up as significant income and wealth gains for those at the very top and stagnant living standards for the majority,” she told economists, professors and community workers.

“I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation’s history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity.”

Good for Yellen. Now let’s see some action beyond the words.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a fabulous Friday!!

friday-121


Friday Reads: Zombie Memes

zombie-apocalypseGood Morning!

The Ebola Virus and the epidemic in Africa is real.  The right wing hysteria about the virus is rivaling the bad plots of the Zombie movies I’m watching during SyFy’s Countdown to Halloween.  I thought I’d spend some time separating the facts from the conspiracy theories today.  So let me start with one of the most outrageous Zombie Memes from one of the most vile women on the planet. Dementia or further evidence of the advanced stages of evil?  It’s your choice.

In an interview with WorldNetDaily published today, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly weighed in on the unfounded theory gaining traction in the right-wing media that Central American young people are to blame for an outbreak of a childhood respiratory illness in the U.S.

“There are all kinds of diseases in the rest of the world, and we don’t want them in this country,” Schlafly told WND, adding that “of all the things [Obama has] done, I think this thing of letting these diseased people into this country to infect our own people is just the most outrageous of all.”

She went on to imply that President Obama is intentionally allowing people infected with Ebola into the United States because he wants America to be “just like everybody else, and if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too. That’s his attitude.”

Conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly – author of “Who Killed the American Family?” – said she agrees Obama is responsible for allowing diseases to enter the country.

“There are all kinds of diseases in the rest of the world, and we don’t want them in this country,” Schlafly said. “And it’s Obama’s job to keep them out.

“Out of all the things he’s done, I think this thing of letting these diseased people into this country to infect our own people is just the most outrageous of all.”

Schlafly said the government should screen immigrants for disease before they enter the country, as was done at Ellis Island a hundred years ago.

“That was the purpose of Ellis Island – to have a waiting place where it was decided whether people were healthy enough or responsible enough to come into our country,” she said. “The idea that anybody can just walk in and carry this disease with them is just an outrage, and it is Obama’s fault because he’s responsible for doing it.”

When asked why the current administration hasn’t done more to prevent diseased illegal aliens or Ebola carriers from Africa from entering the country, Schlafly said Obama wants to make the U.S. more like the rest of the world.

“Obama doesn’t want America to believe that we’re exceptional,” Schlafly said. “He wants us to be just like everybody else, and if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too. That’s his attitude.”

Yup, it’s despicable She. Still foaming at the mouth after all these years too.

Okay, so as not to overwhelm you with teh crazy all at once.  Let’s go to some science and medicine.zombies1

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told a top-level forum in Washington, D.C., that the Ebola outbreak is unlike anything he’s seen since the AIDS epidemic.

“I would say that in the 30 years I’ve been working in public health, the only thing like this has been AIDS,” Frieden said before the heads of the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund, according to AFP.

Frieden added: “We have to work now so that it is not the world’s next AIDS.”

Frieden’s comments come as the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. died Wednesday despite intense but delayed treatment. The U.S. government also announced it was expanding airport examinations to guard against the spread of the deadly disease.

The checks will include taking the temperatures of hundreds of travelers arriving from West Africa at five major American airports.

The new screenings will begin Saturday at New York’s JFK International Airport and then expand to Washington Dulles and the international airports in Atlanta, Chicago and Newark. An estimated 150 people per day will be checked, using high-tech thermometers that don’t touch the skin.

The White House said the fever checks would reach more than 9 of 10 travelers to the U.S. from the three heaviest-hit countries — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

President Barack Obama called the measures “really just belt and suspenders” to support protections already in place. Border Patrol agents now look for people who are obviously ill, as do flight crews, and in those cases the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is notified.

It’s unlikely a fever check would have spotted Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola in a Dallas hospital Wednesday morning. Duncan wasn’t yet showing symptoms when he arrived in the U.S.

signsofthezombieapocalypse_wpid-signsofthezombieapocalypse_zombies-cementerio1So the disease is ravaging West Africa.  That’s where the problem is and needs to be solved.

There are the facts about the state of the Ebola crisis. In West Africa, more than 8,000 people have contracted the disease and nearly half have died. In the U.S., there’s just one confirmed casethat of Thomas Duncan, the Liberian man who passed away in Dallas on Wednesday. Experts say that the caseload in West Africa is likely to get much, much bigger. As many as 1.4 million people could get the disease, with a large fraction of them dying from it. The same experts expect no similar outbreak here, even if a few more cases appear, because we have the personnel and the resources to limit exposure.

But all of the news on Wednesday was about developments here in the U.S.in particular, new screening efforts at five major U.S. airports, Duncan’s death, and reports of possible new cases in the U.S., including one in Dallas. You could tell by the questions that Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, fielded during a late afternoon press conference.  He got more than a dozen of them. Only two were about the situation abroad. (And one of them, it so happens, came from me.)

The preoccupation with what’s happening here, as opposed to what’s happening over there, is perfectly understandable. On Tuesday, a Gallup poll revealed that Americans today are as worried about contracting Ebola as they were about contracting H1N1, the swine flu, during that outbreak two years ago. By that time, millions of people had gotten H1N1 and thousands had already died. But people die from flu all the time, usually because they are very young or very old or already otherwise infirmed. It’s a threat that people have factored into their daily lives, if at all. Ebola is quite literally a foreign menace, one to which almost nobody gave much thought until a few weeks ago. The virus kills about half the people who get it, with little regard for age or health status of the person infected.

That fear goes a long way to explaining why the U.S. is implementing the new screening process at the airports. Customs and Border Patrol agents were already on the lookout for people with visible signs of the disease. Now they will add another layer of scrutiny. They will use questionnaires to screen for people who have been in affected countriesand, then, subject these people to temperature tests and more questioning. People who have fever or show other Ebola symptoms will be evaluated by quarantine officers from the CDC, then referred to local health authorities who will decide how to handle the cases. The primary goal is to identify any passengers infected with Ebola before they leave the airport.

But yes, the right wing is hysterical and afraid and lying as the right wing is prone to do.

Of all the issues that you would think would be non-partisan, Ebola should be at the top of the list. The disease is just a mindless germ that doesn’t check your race, gender, social class, sexual orientation or party identification before it strikes, suggesting both liberals and conservatives ¿Quién Está Creando Zombies Y Para Qué¿ 3have a stake in treating people exposed to the disease with compassion and care. And yet, to flip on Fox News or turn on any conservative media at all, you’d think that ebola was some kind of plague designed by the Democratic party in order to wipe out Republicans.

Blowing the threat of ebola out of proportion and trying to link it to Obama has been a constant theme on the right in recent days. Elisabeth Hasselbeck of Fox News literally demanded that we put the country on lockdown, banning all travel in and out. In a bit of race-baiting, Andrea Tantaros of Fox suggested that people who travel to the country and show symptoms of ebola will “seek treatment from a witch doctor” instead of go to the hospital. Fox host Steve Doocy suggested the CDC is lying about ebola because they’re “part of the administration”. Fox also promoted a conspiracy theorist who is trying to claim the CDC is lying when they caution people not to panic.

Other right wing media joined in. Tammy Bruce blamed ebola on the “Obama legacy”. Laura Ingraham said Obama was prevented from doing more to stop the disease because of his “core ties to the African continent”. Rush Limbaugh even went as far as to accuse Obama of letting the disease spread because he supposes liberals believe “we kind of deserve a little bit of this”.

Okay, so here’s a zombie mistake and a big one.   Justice Kennedy’s Typo Accidentally Stops Same-Sex Marriage in Nevada.

Yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy stunned America when he ordered a halt on Nevada’s same-sex marriages, less than a day after the Court voted to overturn a ban on gay marriages in that state. Turns out that it was a total accident. Yes, a big ol’ “oops, my bad” incident.

According to SCOTUSBlog, what happened was the following: The Ninth Circuit recently heard challenges to same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada, who, for the purposes of convenience, had combined both of their challenges into a single case. In two different rulings, the federal appellate court struck down both of these states’ bans, allowing same-sex marriage in Idaho and Nevada, and issued a mandate on the ruling to immediately enforce the new law. In other words, the moment that the Ninth Circuit struck down the ban, gay and lesbian couples could get married immediately.

This did not make Idaho happy, so they filed a request to Justice Kennedy asking him to put a stop on same-sex marriage in Idaho, so that state officials could review their case before the Ninth Circuit. Kennedy allowed it, but in a total brain fart moment, issued an order that put a stop on weddings in both Idaho and Nevada, even though nobody in Nevada had asked for a review, either.

Thankfully, same-sex marriages can still occur in Las Vegas for the time being, but unfortunately, nobody knows what the eff is happening anymore. As a result, the Ninth Circuit has recalled its order implementing same-sex marriage in Idaho and are asking for briefs as to whether they need to do the same in Nevada.

Good job, Kennedy. Look how much confusion your typo has caused.

Oh, another Zombie Meme replacing Benghazi these days.  It’s not only Ebola that’s Obama’s fault but also ISIL.  It’s all about killing white people!!!  Here’s some great links and proof from Politicus.toht-facepalm-jeff-robertson

We have shown that for the GOP, the threat of Ebola exists only as an excuse to attack President Obama, that it’s all Obama’s fault (of course) and that, Oh my God! Oh my God! It’s going to kill us all! Cue to Rand Paul diving under his bed.

We have also been closely following the rise of ISIL in Syria and Iraq, and have tried to show you the contrast between the Republican and the Democratic reactions.

We have shown that for the GOP, the threat of ISIL exists only as an excuse to attack President Obama, that it’s all Obama’s fault (of course) and that Oh my God! Oh my God! They’re going to kill us all! Cue to Lindsey Graham diving under his bed.

It is surely significant that yesterday Time Magazine should profile the Republican response to the ISIL “scandal”: GOP Ad Claims ISIS Plot to Attack U.S. Via ‘Arizona’s Backyard.’

As Time’s Zeke Miller and Alex Rogers describe the ad, which was posted to YouTube yesterday,

The National Republican Congressional Committee ad opens with grainy footage of black flags and fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) holding rifles on military vehicles. “Evil forces around the world want to harm Americans every day,” an ominous voiceover states. “Their entry into our country? Through Arizona’s backyard.” The spot goes on to recount how Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), locked in a close re-election fight with Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, has voted against border security legislation, suggesting that she “leaves Arizona vulnerable.”

Chris Wallace of Fox News has already planted the suggestion in viewers’ facile minds that Ebola could come across our Southern Border and that it could be used as a weapon. It doesn’t matter after those words are spoken than an expert debunks them. The damage has been done.

The brain damage was done to any one that actually believes these things years ago.

So what’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: 10,000 Full Cavitity Searches…on Pigeons?

Good Morning

Screen-Shot-2014-09-30-at-9.54.07-PM

That tweet is something innit?

It seems like a logistical nightmare to me:

 China Subjects 10,000 Pigeons To Anal Exams Due To Terrorism Fears

On Tuesday, China’s largest newspaper The People’s Dailytweeted that thousands of pigeons had undergone “anal security checks” to ensure they weren’t carrying anything harmful in their bodies. These rectal examinations were performed as a terrorism precaution for China’s National Day on Wednesday.

[...]

Despite the fact that pro-democracy protests have been going on for several days in Hong Kong, China continues to aggressively censor news about the protests. This tweet served as a distraction and is just one example — albeit a ridiculous one — of China’s media complying and avoiding coverage of Hong Kong’s demonstrations. Additionally, China has also gone through social media to limit information being released about the protests — including removing protest-related posts from Twitter-like service Weibo and banning Instagram.

Seriously? Anal exams? On pigeons?

Ha…I couldn’t resist.

Okay, getting serious now.

It is October 1st.

The bloody shit has hit the fan, or what I really mean to say is that the Ebola virus has come to America:

First Ebola case diagnosed in US; fears others may have been exposed | Al Jazeera America

A patient being treated at a Dallas hospital has tested positive for Ebola, the first case of the disease to be diagnosed in the United States, federal health officials announced Tuesday.

Officials at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital say the unidentified patient is being kept in isolation and that the hospital is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations to keep doctors, staff and patients safe.

The hospital had announced a day earlier that the patient’s symptoms and recent travel suggested Ebola. An outbreak of the killer virus has killed more than 3,000 people across West Africa and infected a handful of Americans who have traveled to that region.

All the crazy talk before, when sick folks were coming to Atlanta and other US hospitals for treatment, that was nothing. Get ready for the mega news cycle that is sure to follow this story. (Not that is isn’t big news…but it will eclipse many important things that are going on right now….that need media attention.)

Ebola now in the US, first case confirmed by CDC

The CDC has confirmed that a man in a Dallas hospital has Ebola, CBS News is reporting.

[...]

Apparently the man had been in west Africa recently — Liberia, to be exact — where there’s been a rather large outbreak of Ebola. He’s been in strict isolation as soon as the hospital suspected Ebola.

According to the CDC press conference, the man left Liberia on the 19th of Septemnber. Arrived in the US on the 20th of September. Had no symptoms, but then around the 24th of September, began to develop symptoms. Sought care on the 26th. And then Sunday the 28th admitted to a hospital and placed in isolation.

He was admitted into isolation on Sunday.

The CDC director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, says that Ebola is not contagious until you have symptoms.

CNN says that while this is spread through bodily fluids, if you shook hands with this man between the 24th and the day he went to the hospital, you would have to be put into isolation for three weeks. Wow.

The good news is that he had no symptoms until long after he arrived in the US, so at least people on his flight are safe.

More on the man’s background, and how they are now investigating him:  Health officials tracing Dallas Ebola patient’s path

The patient, who is in an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, did not develop symptoms until four days after he arrived from West Africa, officials said at a hastily called press conference at the CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta.

“He was checked for fever before getting on the flight,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden. “There is no reason to believe anyone on the flight was at risk.”

The Ebola virus is not spread through the air, but through contact with bodily fluids of victims — sweat, blood, saliva and other secretions.

The patient, whom officials would not identify, flew to the United States on Sept. 20, and began feeling ill on Sept. 24, Frieden said.

He sought care at the Dallas hospital on Friday and was sent home with antibiotics, Dr. Edward Goodman of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said at a separate press conference in Dallas. Goodman said the hospital is looking into why the patient was discharged.

On Sunday, a Dallas Fire-Rescue crew transported the man to the hospital in an ambulance. This time, he was admitted to the hospital, Frieden said.

The ambulance crew has been quarantined, and the ambulance taken out of service, according to a statement from the city of Dallas.

Gov. Rick Perry is scheduled to stop in Dallas on Wednesday in response to the news, according to WFAA.com.

None of the officials at the news conferences would say whether the man is an American citizen. They said only that he was visiting family members who live in this country.

But a statement released by the city of Dallas said the man had “moved to Dallas from Liberia a week ago.”

Frieden, along with Dallas County and Texas state health officials, emphasized that the patient did not become contagious until Sept. 24 when he began to display symptoms.

“There is zero risk of transmission” to other passengers on the overseas airplane flight, Frieden said.

Asked how many people may have been around the victim after he developed symptoms, Frieden said, “I think handful is the right characterization. Family members, and there may have been one or two or three community members. Our approach is to cast the net widely.”

Those who may have been exposed will be monitored for 21 days, the incubation period for the Ebola virus, he said.

Officials would not release the name of the airline or the flight number.

A statement from American Airlines said: “American Airlines does not fly to Africa and we have been told the passenger was not on a connecting flight involving our aircraft. We follow the guidelines put in place by the CDC specifically for airlines and work with our crews to protect the health of our customers and employees.”

The patient “is communicating and expressing hunger,” Goodman said Tuesday evening.

He said the experimental vaccine that was used on two Americans who contracted Ebola in Liberia this summer is no longer available.

Hmmm, doesn’t The Walking Dead season premier start soon? Talk about a great way to drum up some hysteria and publicity. And think about it, all those Ebola victim Halloween costumes! Damn what impeccable timing.

Sorry that I am so snarky/bitchy. I am in a mood.

This is really a drop dead serious thing. Go to that link above to see how the CDC is handling it, and more specifically how Texas is handling it.

The city of Dallas activated its Emergency Operations Center and went to “Level 2: High Readiness” although no one was available to explain what that means.

Oh my. I think the pigeons over in China wish they lived in the city of Dallas.

A Dallas County spokeswoman said, “Level 2 generally means department activities and personnel have extended beyond the regular work day.”

President Obama has been briefed about the Ebola case by the CDC, according to the White House press office.

Good, the President should be briefed about something like this…right?

I mean, we want him to be ready to defend himself for the onslaught of blame:

And We Have Our First Conservative Pundit To Connect Barack Obama To the U.S. Ebola Case | The Daily Banter

If you had one minute in the over-under on how long it would take for a member of the conservative entertainment complex to connect President Obama to the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S., congratulations — you win.

This afternoon, literally immediately following the CNN tweet announcing that the CDC had confirmed the Ebola diagnosis, 26-year-old Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich tweeted out this:

Now if you don’t know who Katie Pavlich is, that’s precisely why she made sure she was the first to invoke the name of the Great Socialist Satan in the wake of today’s Ebola announcement. She knew that, kind of like celebrity wedding pictures, the first one to get it out there is the one who gets all the free publicity.

[...]

Pavlich is one of the interchangeable conservative Barbie dolls that stake out the couch-of-shame on Fox News’s Outnumbered. She’s an editor at Townhall.com, which is a reliable online dispensary for the relentless stream of horseshit that comes out of the mouths of people like Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt. She wrote an entire book on the pretend Fast and Furious scandal and has a new book out called, amusingly, Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women. In other words, there isn’t a damn thing special about her. She’s your average, by-the-numbers conservative entertainment troll. She knows how the game is played and she’s playing it for all it’s worth.

Pavlich knows that once she brings Obama into this, she gets attacked by sane people — which just increases her street cred on the right — and the crazies rally around her because she just threw them a bunch of red meat. It doesn’t even matter that she went on to deny she was specifically blaming Obama for Ebola in the United States, because the goal was never anything more complicated than getting some quick mileage out of dragging the president into the storyline.

You knew it was a Fox contributor, without even having to read about it…didn’t ya!
Global nightmare by Political Cartoonist Olle Johansson

154311 600 Global nightmare cartoons

FENCE JUMPER by Political Cartoonist Bill Day

154362 600 FENCE JUMPER cartoons

Those cartoons just seemed to be begging to be included in the post.

Ah, let’s add one more.

Secret Service Screwups

154363 600 Secret Service Screwups cartoons

And with that cartoon, a few links on the Secret Service’s disturbing service or non-service:

No More Mister Nice Blog

THE MAINSTREAMING OF RIGHT-WING EXTREMISM, PART LXVIII

I know I should be freaking out about Ebola, but I want to write about The Washington Post‘s appalling decision to publish an opinion piece by a former Secret Service agent that includes this recommendation:

[Secret Service director Julia] Pierson should be replaced and the next director should come from outside the Secret Service, with the deputy director remaining an agent. In this role, a true leader, not a bureaucrat, is needed. Someone like Florida congressman and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Allen West would be perfect for the role. West has successfully demonstrated that he possesses the leadership skills of a combat officer as well as managerial and diplomatic skills of a congressman, exactly the traits needed in the next director. Highly competent and beholden to no one in the Secret Service, he would be a superb director.

Allen West? Seriously?

Let’s ignore the fact that West resigned from the military a decade ago just as an investigation found probable cause to determine that he’d assaulted and mock-executed a prisoner in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Let’s ignore the fact that West specializes in verbal hand grenades, so it’s preposterous to credit him with “diplomatic skills.” The reason this is an insane recommendation is that we really can’t be certain that West would consider it his duty to protect President Obama from harm.

Yeah,

Just last month, West wrote:

Barack Hussein Obama is an Islamist in his foreign policy perspectives and supports their cause. You can go back and listen to his 2009 speech in Cairo, where Muslim Brotherhood associates were seated front and center.

All the circumstantial and anecdotal evidence points to that conclusion.

See, it makes me wonder if maybe there are people out there who should be getting other areas of their bodies probed and examined. I am talking about West’s brain, because that…is just fucked up. (More crazy at the link.)

Digby has another take on it…Hullabaloo

Now I’m worried about the president’s safety #secretservicewingnuts

by digby

Ok, I’ll admit I haven’t been as freaked out about the incursion into the White House as some people. But if the fellow who wrote this op-ed for the Washington Post is indicative of the sort of people who are protecting the president, I am now truly afraid for him[.]

Oh you bet your ass sister!

If I was Obama, I would earnestly think about hiring his own body guards.

Report: Obama rode elevator with armed man | AccessNorthGa

The latest embarrassment for the Secret Service comes after agency Director Julia Pierson took full responsibility for a Sept. 19 breach of the White House. The Washington Examiner and The Washington Post report that the latest incident took place in an elevator during Obama’s Sept. 16 visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The Post says agents questioned the contractor and discovered his criminal history after he refused to stop video recording the president with a phone camera.

Agents didn’t know he was armed until a supervisor fired the contractor on the spot and the man turned over his gun.

The Secret Service did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

Damn. You know the people here in Georgia are nuts. Gun nuts that is.

Again, we see Fox News spreading the joy, they are loving it:

Fox News Analyst Wonders If Secret Service Purposely Didn’t Do Their Duty:  Did they wish or did they wonder? | Crooks and Liars

In other political news:

WASHINGTON: Study: In 2012, Florida voters waited the longest to cast ballots | Elections | McClatchy DC

(Not that it was really a big surprise.)

Voters in Florida waited far longer than those in other states to cast their votes in the 2012 election, hampered by long ballots and cutbacks in early voting options, according to a new report by congressional auditors.

Voters in the state stood in line more than 34 minutes on average, significantly longer than ballot-casters did in any other state reviewed by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ watchdog.

The shortest waits? Alaska, at just 1.4 minutes.

Three others states had wait times about 25 or more minutes: Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. But most of the others fell somewhere between five minutes and 20 minutes, on average.

In Florida, the GAO estimated, 16 percent of voters waited 61 minutes or more to cast their ballots – tops among the states surveyed.

And from Dakinikat’s home state, this long reads starts out like a horror story: Plaquemines Louisiana Environmental Disaster: The Land Is Vanishing | New Republic

In response to complaints some years ago about blocked plumbing along New Orleans’ Claiborne Avenue, city workers opened up the sewer main and found a human nose. Following the line down the avenue, popping open manholes and looking inside, they discovered ears, fingers, fingernails, shriveled flaps of skin, viscera. Where had it all come from?

To solve this mystery, the Sewerage and Water Board turned to Warren Lawrence, a former plumber who served as the utility’s inspector. Lawrence conducted his job with the perspicacity of a criminal detective. It wasn’t enough for him to repair a drainage problem; he made a point of pursuing each disturbance back to its source and holding the perpetrator responsible. When, for instance, Lawrence encountered a section of corroded pipes, he traced the damage to a battery factory near the Superdome that had been illegally pouring acid down the drain. After finding a black-and-white jumpsuit in a sewer, he learned that inmates of Orleans Parish Prison had been stuffing their uniforms into the toilets in an effort to back up the jail’s plumbing system. To increase their odds of success, every prisoner flushed their toilet at the same time. They called this a “Royal Flush.”

Lawrence followed the trail of body parts to Charity Hospital. The manhole that led into the hospital’s sewer line was clogged with flesh. Lawrence asked hospital administrators why they were dumping bodies into the sewer. They explained that, until recently, they had incinerated all unclaimed corpses. The stench was abhorrent, however, so they had installed a $1 million, 15-horsepower grinder pump. The machine ground the bodies into a slurry, but small parts escaped the blades. Lawrence ordered the hospital to remove the grinder. As he was backed by the force of City Hall, the hospital had no choice but to comply.

Take some time with that one.

On Jeopardy this week: – ‘Jeopardy!’ Category Titled ‘What Women Want’ Filled Entirely With Sexist Stereotypes

At a time when the country is struggling with serious issues regarding gender equality, Jeopardy! could have taken the opportunity to explore some of the things 21st Century women have been fighting for. How about equal pay? Or perhaps, access to birth control? Maybe greater legal protections against sexual assault?

Instead, the show offered such examples as “a new vacuum cleaner” and “Pilates.” Yuck.

4324324134421541554141

I know we have Jeopardy viewers here, anyone see this shit?

For your history/archaeology link of the day: Massive Roman Coin Hoard Unearthed in England – Archaeology Magazine

Archaeologists and conservators from the British Museum have announced that an amateur metal detectorist has found one of the largest hoards of coins ever discovered in Britain. The hoard is comprised of no less than 22,000 coins dating to between A.D. 260 and 350 that were in very good condition when they emerged from the ground, Devon County Council archaeologist Bill Horner told The Independent. Since the hoard was found ten months ago—its discovery was kept quiet to avoid looting at the site while archaeologists conducted a proper excavation—the coins have been cleaned, identified, and catalogued. Many bear portraits of the family of the emperor Constantine and of the emperor himself.

That is awesome, they are calling the find, the Seaton Down Hoard. (Sitting Down Hard…ha.)

Lastly, a review of a new DVD release…of a classic movie, that just so happens to be screening on TCM later this month:

Review: Just in time for Halloween, Criterion releases horror classic The Innocents · DVD Review · The A.V. Club

“I can’t judge you, Miss. A body can only judge themselves.” So Mrs. Grose (Megs Jenkins), the housekeeper of a palatial country estate in the eden of rural England, concludes to Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr), the new governess who’s grown increasingly convinced that her two young charges are possessed by the sinister spirits of their deceased former caretakers. The exchange happens late in The Innocents, as Jack Clayton’s formative but underappreciated horror masterpiece coheres into a ravishing neo-romantic takedown of Victorian repression, spooky and scathing in equal measure.

Miss Giddens, whom Kerr agreeably claimed was her best role, is a high-strung woman whose outspoken love for children may not be quite as selfless as it seems. Despite having no professional experience, Giddens is hired by an apathetic bachelor (Michael Redgrave) to care for his orphaned niece and nephew at his idyllic country home. Flora (Pamela Franklin) and Miles (Martin Stephens) are strange and cloistered children who were previously exposed to the kinky sexual relationship shared between Giddens’ predecessor and the bachelor’s valet, and Giddens pities the kids for that, taking it as her mission to restore and protect their innocence for as long as she can. But as she begins to see apparitions around the property—a robed figure sweeping across a dark hallway, a man emerging from the night to press his demented face against a first floor window—Giddens starts to suspect that the children may be more tainted than she feared.

If The Innocents isn’t quite the oldest scary story in the book, it’s certainly by now one of the most familiar. (But it’s also damn old: The film was adapted from Henry James’ 1898 novella The Turn Of The Screw, even though it takes most of its cues from the William Archibald play that inspired its title). Released in 1961 as a response to the somewhat schlocky Hammer horror films of the time, The Innocents is a comparatively restrained ghost story that owes far more to Jean Cocteau’s Beauty And The Beast than it does Terence Fisher’s The Curse Of Frankenstein. In fact, the case could be made that it’s not a ghost story at all; Clayton’s palpable use of the subjective camera ensures that the phantasms are almost never glimpsed from any perspective other than Miss Giddens’—a point cultural critic Christopher Frayling makes during the erudite commentary track included with Criterion’s new edition of the film. The script, co-written by Truman Capote, doesn’t spend much time entertaining the idea that everything is in Giddens’ head. But Kerr’s possessed performance as an unraveling woman nevertheless imbues each seemingly supernatural incident with the intimacy of a nervous breakdown.

Now I’ve never seen this flick, so I look forward to watching it:  Thursday, October 23 @ 08:00 PM (ET)

TCM has a long article about the film: The Innocents (1961) – Articles – TCM.com

And Movie Morlocks has a few blog posts that mention the movie, here is one of them:

moviemorlocks.com – Do You Want to See Something REALLY Scary?

During the month of October I’m often asked to recommend my favorite horror films. But recommending scary movies can be a tricky business. What frightens me might make you merely shrug your shoulders and laugh out loud. And if you’re a serious horror fan there’s a high probability that you’ve seen a lot of well-regarded classic films such as THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925), FRANKENSTEIN (1931), PSYCHO (1960) and Val Lewton’s various movies as well as Halloween standards like THE SHINING (1980), CARRIE (1976), NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) and HALLOWEEN (1978) so recommending movies can become rather redundant. Instead of simply suggesting some of my favorite horror films for you to watch I thought I’d share some of my favorite scary moments from films that have left a deep impression on me over the years. So pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable while I share something REALLY scary.


THE INNOCENTS (Jack Clayton; 1961) – The ghostly woman in black

THE INNOCENTS is one of my favorite films and in my not so humble opinion, one of the most frightening films ever made. Henry James’ classic ghost story has been adapted for the screen many times but no film has come close to matching Jack Clayton’s haunting retelling of “The Turn of the Screw.” THE INNOCENTS tells the eerie story of Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr), a governess to two young children who she believes are haunted by ghosts. The film has a lot of chill-inducing moments but nothing terrifies me more than the startling image of an unearthly woman dressed in black standing by the edge of the water surrounded by tall grass. Kerr only gets a brief glimpse of the ghostly figure of the long dead Miss Jessel (Clytie Jessop) and if you blink you might miss her. But if you do see her, you’ll never forget her.

So be sure to check it out.

Well, let’s end today’s post with another little clip from 1996’s Beavis and Butthead. This one not only has another it cavity search bit, but gives Chelsea Clinton some ass kicking power in her teen years…and a jab at White House Security. Ah…life before 9/11…

Good times.


Tuesday Reads: What’s Wrong With the Secret Service?

Uniformed Secret Service officers walk along the fence on the north side of the White House on Sept. 20 in Washington. (Susan Walsh / AP)

Uniformed Secret Service officers walk along the fence on the north side of the White House on Sept. 20 in Washington. (Susan Walsh / AP)

Good Morning!!

What is going on with the Secret Service? There has been one scandal after another involving the agency during Obama’s presidency. In the past couple of days The Washington Post broke the news that not only did Omar Gonzalez, the Iraq war veteran who jumped over the fence and got into the White House on Friday, September 19 actually get deep into the White House before being apprehended, but also the Secret Service apparently lied about that and a previous White House breach.

Carol D. Leonnig reports: White House fence-jumper made it far deeper into building than previously known.

The man who jumped the White House fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor, according to three people familiar with the incident.

An alarm box near the front entrance of the White House designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher’s office, said a Secret Service official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The officer posted inside the front door appeared to be delayed in learning that the intruder, Omar Gonzalez, was about to burst through. Officers are trained that, upon learning of an intruder on the grounds — often through the alarm boxes posted around the property — they must immediately lock the front door.

After barreling past the guard immediately inside the door, Gonzalez, who was carrying a knife, dashed past the stairway leading a half-flight up to the first family’s living quarters. He then ran into the 80-foot-long East Room, an ornate space often used for receptions or presidential addresses.

Gonzalez was tackled by a counterassault agent at the far southern end of the East Room. The intruder reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn with artwork and antique furniture, according to three people familiar with the incident.

Below is a diagram of Gonzolez’ pathway through the White House, from The Daily Telegraph.

floor_plan_3056162c

 

Leonnig also reported a few days ago on a 2011 incident in which a gunman shot at the White House with a semiautomatic rifle: Secret Service fumbled response after gunman hit White House residence in 2011.

The gunman parked his black Honda directly south of the White House, in the dark of a November night, in a closed lane of Constitution Avenue. He pointed his semiautomatic rifle out of the passenger window, aimed directly at the home of the president of the United States, and pulled the trigger.

A bullet smashed a window on the second floor, just steps from the first family’s formal living room. Another lodged in a window frame, and more pinged off the roof, sending bits of wood and concrete to the ground. At least seven bullets struck the upstairs residence of the White House, flying some 700 yards across the South Lawn.

President Obama and his wife were out of town on that evening of Nov. 11, 2011, but their younger daughter, Sasha, and Michelle Obama’s mother,Marian Robinson, were inside, while older daughter Malia was expected back any moment from an outing with friends.

Secret Service officers initially rushed to respond. One, stationed directly under the second-floor terrace where the bullets struck, drew her .357 handgun and prepared to crack open an emergency gun box. Snipers on the roof, standing just 20 feet from where one bullet struck, scanned the South Lawn through their rifle scopes for signs of an attack. With little camera surveillance on the White House perimeter, it was up to the Secret Service officers on duty to figure out what was going on.

Then came an order that surprised some of the officers. “No shots have been fired. . . . Stand down,” a supervisor called over his radio. He said the noise was the backfire from a nearby construction vehicle.

White House shooter Oscar Ortega-Hernandez

White House shooter Oscar Ortega-Hernandez

That was just the beginning of the “fumbled response.”

That command was the first of a string of security lapses, never previously reported, as the Secret Service failed to identify and properly investigate a serious attack on the White House. While the shooting and eventual arrest of the gunman, Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez, received attention at the time, neither the bungled internal response nor the potential danger to the Obama daughters has been publicly known. This is the first full account of the Secret Service’s confusion and the missed clues in the incident — and the anger the president and first lady expressed as a result.

By the end of that Friday night, the agency had confirmed a shooting had occurred but wrongly insisted the gunfire was never aimed at the White House. Instead, Secret Service supervisors theorized, gang members in separate cars got in a gunfight near the White House’s front lawn — an unlikely scenario in a relatively quiet, touristy part of the nation’s capital.

It took the Secret Service four days to realize that shots had hit the White House residence, a discovery that came about only because a housekeeper noticed broken glass and a chunk of cement on the floor.

Four days to figure out that bullets had struck inside the White House?! Unbelievable! And yet the White House came to the defense of the agency after Leonig’s report on the 2011 incident. From the LA Times:

“The men and women of the Secret Service put their lives on the line for the president of the United States, his family and folks working in the White House every single day, 24 hours a day,” deputy national security advisor Tony Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “Their task is incredible and the burden that they bear is incredible.”

Blinken spoke in the wake of the publication of a story in The Washington Post about the Secret Service’s slow and confused response to the 2011 shooting. The gunman, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, was arrested for firing rifle shots at the White House from a nearby street.

Are officials afraid that Secret Service agents will be even more careless about the President’s safety if they are criticized? (Privately, the WaPo reported, President Obama and his wife Michelle were extremely angry after the shooting incident.) As for the “burden that they bear,” I guess that’s why agents have a history of drinking, carousing, and hiring prostitutes–to deal with all that stress? What if Obama or a member of his family had been wounded or killed during one of these security breaches?

At least some in Congress are taking the problem seriously. NPR reports, Secret Service Chief Faces Questions Over Breaches At White House.

The head of the U.S. Secret Service is in for a likely grilling from lawmakers today when she appears before a House committee to answer questions about the Sept. 19 security breach at the White House in which a man with a knife jumped a fence and made it inside the executive mansion before agents intercepted him.

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson will appear opposite members of the House Oversight Committee just as new information has come to light about the incident: The Washington Post reports that after jumping the fence, Omar Gonzalez made it past the front doors, overpowered a guard and then ran across the East Room before being tackled at the doorway to the Green Room.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday that the president and first family, who were not in the executive mansion at the time of the breach, are “obviously concerned” but have confidence in the Secret Service.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a member of the House Oversight Committee on Monday told The Associated Press that he’s “worried” that “over the last several years, security has gotten worse, not better.”

NPR’s Giles Snyder says while the fence jumper incident is likely to dominate the hearing, Pierson, who took over as Secret Service chief last year, is also expected to be questioned about a 2011 incident in which shots were fired at the White House.

Secret Service agents with President Obama on his arrival in Columbia in 2012

Secret Service agents with President Obama on his arrival in Columbia in 2012

The Daily Telegraph summarizes previous Secret Service screw-ups under Obama:

The American public first learned the phrase “wheels up party” in 2012. The term refers to agents’ often-drunken celebrations in a foreign country after a successful overseas trip by the President.

But during Mr Obama’s visit to Cartegena, Colombia, his bodyguards didn’t wait until the President had left town. Eleven agents were sent home after some allegedly drank and slept with prostitutes in the week leading up to Mr Obama’s visit. The Secret Service promised reform but a similar incident unfolded in Amsterdam in March when one agent was so drunk they passed out in a hotel hallway.

Less than a year after Mr Obama took office in 2009, he hosted a lavish state dinner for the Indian prime minister, inviting many of Washington’s most notable figures to attend.

But among the dignitaries were Michaele and Tareq Salahi, a Virginia couple who had dressed up for the event but had no invitation. They passed easily through the Secret Service cordon and photos later showed them smiling alongside Mr Obama and his top aides.

The ease with which the “party crashers” entered the White House exposed the Secret Service to ridicule but also raised serious questions about security.

Mr Obama is said to face an unprecedented level of death threats – both from right-wing extremists and Islamist militants – and the misfires by the Secret Service have dented the agency’s projection of invincibility.

Not that any of this irresponsible behavior by Secret Service agents is really all that surprising for those who remember history. There have been numerous reports of similar behavior before and during the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Russ Baker wrote about it at his blog “Who What Why” after the Colombia incidents in 2012.

Go back almost half a century, and look at the most shocking dereliction of duty ever—the failures that made it easy for someone (or someones) to assassinate John F Kennedy. The failings are endless, from not insisting that the bubble top go on Kennedy’s car, to having too few Secret Service agents protecting the president, to authorizing a particularly dangerous route that slowed the car way down, to allowing it to go through a canyon of windows—and then not checking or securing the windows or installing spotters or sharpshooters. A grade school kid could have done a more serious job of protecting the president….

And yet we continue to let this agency off the hook. We forgot that even LBJ, a direct beneficiary of the agency’s sloppiness with his former boss, trusted the outfit so little himself that he inquired at one point whether he could have the FBI protect him instead.

No agent on rear bumper of JFK's limo.

No agent on rear bumper of JFK’s limo.

The history of racist attitudes in the Secret Service is also concerning, as Baker argues:

It is foolish to ignore the worldviews and attitudes of people expected to protect presidents. Former Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden has described rampant racism and widespread contempt for Kennedy and his policies among Bolden’s fellow officers.

Now, here are a few salient details about the Secret Service today that go beyond trying to get a little “R&R”:  When Washington Post reporters visited the Virginia home of Texas native David R. Chaney, one of the Secret Service supervisors on the Colombia trip, they found a silver pickup truck parked in front. On the vehicle they spotted a bumper sticker with an outline of the state of Texas, and the word “secede.”

It is interesting to note that Chaney’s father served in the Secret Service when Kennedy was in office. As assistant agent in charge of personnel, he was friends with many of the agents who were in Dallas in November, 1963.

There’s much more at the link. Please read the whole thing.

There were also reports of drinking and carousing by Secret Service agents in Dallas the night before the assassination. Vince Palamara has spent years researching the Secret Service and the JFK assassination, and he published a book about it last year, Survivors’ Guilt: The Secret Service and the Failure to Protect President Kennedy.

I know there is lots of other news, but I thought this story was worth a full post. So . . . what other stories are you following today? Let us know in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday.

 


Lazy Saturday Reads: You People are so Ridiculous! Edition

Morning Coffee in the City, by Michele Byrne

Morning Coffee in the City, by Michele Byrne

Good Day!!

 

Hillary and Bill Clinton are grandparents!

From the AP via The Boston Globe:

The couple’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, has given birth to her first child, a daughter named Charlotte.

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the former president and ex-secretary of state, announced the baby’s birth on Twitter and Facebook early Saturday, saying she and husband Marc Mezvinsky are ‘‘full of love, awe and gratitude as we celebrate the birth of our daughter, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky.’’

Clinton spokesman Kamyl Bazbaz said the child was born on Friday but did not immediately provide additional details. The couple lives in New York City. The Clintons quickly retweeted their daughter’s message on Twitter but did not immediately comment on the baby’s arrival.

Now that the announcement is out of the way, the media demands to know if Hillary will now announce she’s running for president.

The baby has been eagerly anticipated as Hillary Clinton considers her political future — she has called the prospect of becoming a grandmother her ‘‘most exciting title yet.’’ She even has picked out the first book she intends to read to her grandchild, the classic ‘‘Goodnight Moon.’’

She has said she didn’t want to make any decisions about another campaign until the baby’s arrival, pointing to her interest in enjoying becoming a grandmother for the first time. If Clinton decides to run for president, her campaign would coincide with the baby’s first two years.

Former-US-President-Bill-Clinton-Become-Grandfather

The Christian Science Monitor even put the demand in their headline to the AP story: Chelsea Clinton now a mom. Will Grandma Hillary announce run for president?

Sigh . . . Yes, I’m sure Hillary is planning to ruin their daughter’s and son-in-law’s celebration by rushing out and the media’s wish come true. Why don’t they hound Mitt Romney instead? He already has so many grandkids he probably can’t keep their names straight; and Ann Romney has been out and about in the past week.

Ann told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that if only Mitt had been elected in 2012, there wouldn’t have been so many problems in Iraq and Syria. According to Ann,

I think he would have had a status of forces agreement on — in Iraq. I don`t believe ISIS would have had the invasion that they have — they’ve had. They wouldn’t have had the ability to — I think he would have tried to arm the moderates in Syria. I think there`s other things that would have happened that would have made the equation a little bit tilted in our favor.

Those people are not going to go away. This is a generational problem. And the sooner we realize, I think, as Americans, that it`s not an easy solution and it`s not going to go away, but to be really aware of how dangerous the situation is — I think Mitt was very aware how — how precarious it was.

As for Mitt giving running for president a third try, Ann hinted that it will depend on what Jeb Bush decides to do.

One scenario out there, Mrs. Romney, is that Jeb Bush doesn`t run after all, and your husband has sized up the landscape and that a lot of his supporters, past and present, said, you have the name recognition, you have the Reagan example of the third time was the charm for him, and that it`s been done before.

[ANN] ROMNEY: Mm-hmm.

CAVUTO: And — and that would be appealing.

ROMNEY: Well, we will see, won`t we, Neil?

I think Jeb probably will end up running, myself. I think, you know, he — people probably are looking at it, that he`s probably looking at it very carefully right now.

CAVUTO: But why would his entrance in the race matter to — to your supporters or not?

ROMNEY: Well, I think, you know, he would draw on a very similar base that we would draw on.

Andrew Prokop at Vox thinks another Romney run could happen: It’s not crazy for Mitt Romney to run for president again. Prokop, reports that according to conservative columnist Bryan York, Jeb is unlikely to run in 2016.

“Romney is said to believe that, other than himself, [Jeb] Bush is the only one of the current Republican field who could beat Hillary Clinton in a general election,” York writes. So there seems to be at least one candidate who would definitively win Romney’s support.

But while there have been several trial balloons for a Jeb Bush candidacy floated recently, there are reasons to be skeptical he’ll actually pull the trigger. First of all, he’s been out of politics for years and focused on making money. For now, Bush has every reason to encourage speculation that he’s running. It gives him increased media attention, perceived clout, and it makes him more valuable as a speaker and rainmaker. But he’s at odds with the GOP base on issues like immigration and Common Core, and he’s suggested that concerns from his family could be an issue. So Bush might well opt against a run, and Romney could feel that he’s the party’s only hope.

After all, writes Prokop, Romney is a known quantity and he’s popular with GOP donors. On top of that, Chris Christie has lost his luster as a candidate.

Read more details at Vox.

AnnRomney2

But what about Mitt’s problems with women? Ann says that’s nonsense, according to Politico.

Ann Romney on Tuesday skewered Democrats’ claim that there’s a GOP “war on women,” calling the accusation “offensive” and saying it won’t work as a campaign tactic.

“It’s ridiculous, honestly, I mean I don’t think they’re getting very far with that, by the way. It’s not going to work. I think women are a lot smarter than that, and that’s kind of offensive to me, to tell you the truth,” Romney said in an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News in response to a question about both the so-called “war on women” and DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s recent comments about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

“Scott Walker’s a good guy, and he’s got a wonderful wife, and he values women and that just doesn’t fly,” Romney added.

She was responding to Wasserman Schultz’s remarks earlier this month, when the Florida Democrat said Walker “has given women the back of his hand.”

Well that’s the end of that then. Scott Walker’s wife (does she have a name) is “wonderful,” so women should just shut up and deal with having limited access to birth control, abortion, and child care, and lower pay than their male colleagues.

Wonkette responds to the Politico story with appropriate sarcasm: Ladies, Stop Offending Ann Romney With How Stupid You Are.

How many times does Her Royal Horse-Riding Majesty Ann Romney have to explain this to YOU PEOPLE? Sheesh! This so-called “war on women” claptrap Democrats can’t stop blah blahing about is so dumb and so 2012 and so not even real anyway, so why are women — who are so much smarter than Democrats think they are — so stupid as to keep falling for it?

Obviously, talking non-stop about the Republican Party’s non-stop assault on women will never work. Ann knows. She’s an elections expert. That’s why the gender gap in 2012 was only 18 points. Practically a draw! No wonder the whole Romney clan was so very shocked and awed that Ann’s 2012 pitch failed to sway the lady voters:

“Women, you need to wake up,” she urged them. “Women have to ask themselves who’s going to have and be there for you. I can promise you, I know, that Mitt will be there for you. He will stand up for you, he will hear your voices.”

Maybe it had something to do with how some of the things that spilled out of her face hole were kind of … oh, what’s the word? Offensive? Like when she said, “I love the fact that there are women out there who don’t have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids.” Those hard-working women out there were such an inspiration to her because she also had suffered and struggled and worked really hard at never having a job, scraping by on nothing but her husband’s daddy’s stock portfolio.

How the heck did that not work with voters?!? Especially after she told YOU PEOPLE to stop being so dumb already, jeez, and vote for her hubby. And some of YOU PEOPLE even whispered in her ear that you totally agreed with her (and yet did not vote for Mitt anyway, weird!), and even ladies who usually don’t worry their pretty little heads about important issues — that’s Man’s Work, after all — were finally, for the first time ever, thinking about really important stuff, like the economy and “their husbands’ jobs.”

AnnRomney1

For heaven’s sake, ladies. Mitt had all those binders full of women, remember? Now get over it and go vote Republican!

Of course Mitt wasn’t included in the Values Voters Summit this weekend. That could mean he’s not running or maybe that he thinks the Tea Party vote won’t matter. The usual suspects were there though.

Despite Ann’s claims that the Democrats are getting nowhere with the “war on women” talk, the “values voters” speakers appeared to tone down the anti-abortion and anti-same sex marriage rhetoric, according to ABC News: Republicans Rallying Behind Religious Liberty.

Fighting to improve their brand, leading Republicans rallied behind religious liberty at a Friday gathering of evangelical conservatives, rebuking an unpopular President Barack Obama while skirting divisive social issues.

Speakers did not ignore abortion and gay marriage altogether on the opening day of the annual Values Voter Summit, but a slate of prospective presidential candidates focused on the persecution of Christians and their values at home and abroad — a message GOP officials hope will help unify a divided party and appeal to new voters ahead of November’s midterm elections and the 2016 presidential contest.

“Oh, the vacuum of American leadership we see in the world,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz declared Friday in a Washington hotel ballroom packed with religious conservatives. “We need a president who will speak out for people of faith, prisoners of conscience.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul echoed the theme in a speech describing America as a nation in “spiritual crisis.”

“Not a penny should go to any nation that persecutes or kills Christians,” said Paul, who like Cruz is openly considering a 2016 presidential bid.

The speaking program included such potential 2016 candidates as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Several possible Republican candidates — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush among them — did not attend. The group has positions on social issues across the spectrum — from the libertarian-leaning Paul, who favors less emphasis on abortion and gay marriage, to Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor whose conservative social values define his brand.

Jindal1

Here’s a lovely little homily from Bobby Jindal:

Jindal, who is also weighing a White House bid, seized on what he called Obama’s “silent war” on religious freedom.

“The United States of America did not create religious liberty,” Jindal said. “Religious liberty created the United States of America.”

Anyone know what he means by a “silent war?” I have no clue. What a charlatan Jindal is!

The ABC article didn’t mention Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin, but they were there too.

From Mediaite on crazy Michele’s speech:  Bachmann Rouses Values Voters Crowd with Calls to ‘Kill’ ISIS Until They Surrender. See video at the link.

Talking Points Memo notes that Sarah Palin doesn’t know the address of the White House. I wonder who lives at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Palin Goofs: Truth Is Endangered At ‘1400’ Penn Avenue. Watch it:

I wonder if the “values voters” liked Palin’s biker chick get-up?

And, of course, Ted Cruz was his usual loony self. Salon: 5 craziest things Ted Cruz just said at the Values Voters Summit (including the full video of his “deranged” speech.

Morning Coffee, by Carol Bolt

Morning Coffee, by Carol Bolt

Quick News Headlines:

The Boston Globe, 7 Questions We’d Ask Ferguson’s Chief of Police.

A man set a fire at an air traffic control facility at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, but it’s not being called terrorism–maybe because the guy isn’t an Arab American?

KTLA Channel 5, FBI: Chicago Controller Sent Facebook Message: ‘I Am About to Take Out’ FAA Facility.

NY Daily News, Illinois man charged in fire at Chicago air traffic control center

The Texas State Board of Education is at it again. Now they want teachers to tell kids that Moses is an inspiration for the U.S. Constitution (very interesting and detailed article at The Daily Beast).

AP, via Yahoo News, Police: Woman beheaded at Oklahoma workplace.

 Fox News, Four College Sophomores dead in Oklahoma bus-truck crash.

Discovery News, Japanese Volcano Erupts: Hikers Missing.

The New Yorker on the newest social media entry, Ello’s Anti-Facebook Moment.

LA Times, Water on Earth predates the solar system, and even the sun.

Raw Story, Complex life on Earth may have appeared 60 million years earlier than previously thought.

National Geographic, Did the Vikings Get a Bum Rap? A Yale historian wants us to rethink the terrible tales about the Norse.

M.I.T. News, Battling superbugs: Two new technologies could enable novel strategies for combating drug-resistant bacteria.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in comment thread. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Wednesday Reads: Homecoming Queens and Coming Home

7c2bef957966b2a31b003f2353542837Good Morning

This was going to be a kick ass post, honestly…that is what I planned it to be at least.

I’ve had some beautiful artsy links stashed away for weeks that I know you will all enjoy, but once again real life is kicking me in the ass, and I find myself writing this post in an exhausted state of mind.

The first part of September is usually busy, since both kids birthdays hit in the middle of the month…bam, bam, right after one another. Then comes the Homecoming Football game, and while the kids are not involved in that fiasco, Bebe is going to the Homecoming dance.

So as I write about a few news stories, take a look at homecoming queens from the past. Some of them are “celebrities” and I bet you will be able to spot them off the bat.

(On a side note, it was a disturbing bit of news to find out that the girl who won for one of the Homecoming court for Banjoville’s High School, got it because she sent nude pictures of herself i.e. sexting, to all the boys in her graduating class. When you see the pictures think about that nugget of insight into life as a teenager in today’s world. My daughter was disgusted about it, but as she was saying, so many of the students just take it as normal behavior. And that is what makes it disturbing as hell.)

Homecoming, October 15, 1967

Homecoming, October 15, 1967

Alrighty then….on with the day’s reads:

History of storm surge in Florida strongly underestimated | Earth | EarthSky

Northwestern Florida was thought to get hit by a hurricane with a five-meter (16-foot) storm surge every 400 years. In fact, the frequency may be every 40 years.

Wow, talk about a great way to grab you in?

Today (September 23, 2014), the American Geophysical Union released a study suggesting that the history of storm surge in the U.S. state of Florida has been strongly underestimated. They say the observational hurricane record for northwestern Florida is just 160 years long, yet hurricane activity is known to vary strongly over thousands of years. Digging back into the prehistorical hurricane record, Lin et al. find that scientists’ reliance on such a narrow slice of observations has led them to underestimate the frequency with which large hurricanes have slammed into Florida’s Gulf Coast.

c38fb51d8751154d99e4f300bf73f686Based on historical records, northwestern Florida gets hit by a hurricane packing a five-meter (16-foot) storm surge every 400 years. Incorporating long-term paleohurricane records, the authors find that the frequency of such a storm is actually closer to every 40 years.

When strong storms batter the shore, waves can carry sediment far inland. Digging down into the sediment record, researchers can reproduce the occurrence of past storm surge. Using a hurricane model and storm surge sediment observations, the authors calculated the intensity and frequency of past hurricanes in Florida’s Apalachee Bay. They find that while the frequency of hurricanes hitting the Gulf Coast has remained relatively the same over the past few thousand years, the storms’ average intensities have been, at times, much higher than during the past 160 years.

51a3f25b38f619caa24f2a3d637ffbb0Based on their paleohurricane storm surge observations, the authors suggest that, historically, northwestern Florida would see a storm surge of 6.3 meters (20.7 feet) every 100 years, 8.3 meters (27.2 feet) every 500 years, and 11.3 meters (37.1 feet) in a worst case scenario event. A storm surge of eight meters (26 feet), they say, would push tens of kilometers (miles) inland.

I don’t know how all that relates..but in other climate news:

This Poet From a Tiny Island Nation Just Shamed The World’s Leaders | Mother Jones

Presidents and diplomats aren’t the only ones calling for climate action at the United Nations. During the opening ceremony of today’s climate summit, ​Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner—a 26-year-old poet from the Marshall Islands—spoke eloquently about the threat that rising seas pose to her country.

Jetnil-Kijiner warned delegates of the high price of inaction and described the current challenge as a “race to save humanity.”

“Those of us from Oceania are already experiencing it first hand,” she said. “We’ve seen waves crashing into our homes…We look at our children and wonder how they will know themselves or their culture should we lose our islands.”

1961 Homecoming Queen of Cando High School in Cando, North Dakota

1961 Homecoming Queen of Cando High School in Cando, North Dakota

Video at link.

Now, an article on privilege. You know, the Black and Muslim kind. White Evangelicals Think They’re Discriminated Against More Than Blacks, Jews, and Muslims | The Daily Banter

The Pew Forum has released a doozy of a poll about religion in public life in the United States showing that white evangelical Christians possess grossly overdeveloped feelings of victimhood. Given that the voting bloc evangelicals comprise is one of the most heavily pandered to in American politics, and given the fact that evangelicals themselves are the cause of some very real discrimination, there is thus a mountainous irony at play here.

In a survey of 2,002 Americans, Pew found that 72% believe that religious influence is waning in the country, and sadly, 56% regard this as a “negative development.” A disturbing 59% of Americans say they want members of Congress to “have strong religious beliefs.” When it comes to discrimination, believe it or not, more Americans think that evangelicals are discriminated against than atheists. Here’s the breakdown of the religious/irreligious groups Pew asked about:

Perceptions of Discrimination in U.S.

% saying there is a lot of discrimination against…

Muslims                               59%

Jews                                      32%

Evangelical Christians      31%

Atheists                                27%

Catholics                              19%

The 1974 Homecoming Queen and her court Tucson, Arizona.

The 1974 Homecoming Queen and her court Tucson, Arizona.

Like the members of the four other groups listed here, evangelicals are probably more likely to perceive discrimination against them than they are when it comes to outside groups. However, this next breakdown shows the staggering degree to which evangelical Christians — and let’s emphasize that since that is after all the majority religious group in the country — think they are victims of discrimination:

Go to the link to see the graphs from Pew…

Notice that of white evangelicals, white mainline Protestants, black Protestants, white Catholics, Hispanic Catholics, and those who are unaffiliated with any religion, it’s white evangelicals who are much more likely to think “there is a lot of discrimination” against them, with 50% believing their demographic is discriminated against “a lot.”

1960 Homecoming Queen at the Minnesota-Ohio State game.

1960 Homecoming Queen at the Minnesota-Ohio State game.

Amazingly, white evangelicals believe there is more discrimination against them than there is against Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, Jews, and atheists. 

Tone. Deaf.

However, this will not come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to the grumblings from evangelical circles about their phantasmagoric plight in an increasingly secular society. This narrative, which has been spoon-fed to them for decades by self-serving preachers, politicians, and pundits, enables white evangelicals to interpret measures designed to stop discrimination against others as actually being discriminatory against the evangelical way of life. For example, it was just last week when televangelist Pat Robertson went on a nonsensical rant explaining why the U.S. Air Force’s decision to let an atheist reenlistee omit the words “So help me god” from his oath, was yet another instance of the armed forces being “terrorized” by secularists.

Meryl Streep 1966

Meryl Streep 1966

You know this reminds me of something I saw on Monday while taking Jake to the Endocrine doctor in Atlanta. It was a big van…maybe a church van? I don’t know, but it had two bumper stickers on it. One read, “We praise the Lord Jesus Christ at blah blah Baptist Church” and the other sticker read, “No Amnesty” Protect our southern border.”  I have to tell you, it was a van with a Georgia license plate. So, very “Christian” of them innit?

Anyway, read the rest of that Daily Banter post at the link.

Up next, a few links on Obama and Hillary. Not stories about them together however…

Obama’s top 5 “war” euphemisms: Words he’s used to avoid calling latest war a “war” – Salon.com

Listen to Obama’s remarks, however, and it’s clear that the president favors a few “special” words to describe the totally-not-a-war war the U.S. is waging in Iraq and Syria.


  1. “Effort” Perhaps Obama’s favorite euphemism for what the U.S. is up to. In his September 10 address, Obama distinguished the “wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan from the “effort” against ISIS. “This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground,” Obama explained. In his weekly address on Saturday, the president said that “[t]his is an effort that America has the unique ability to lead.”
  2. “Process” Asked in August 28 press conference whether he planned to seek congressional authorization for military action against ISIS, Obama sounded like the caricature of the professorial, technocratic president his critics purport him to be. “You know, I have consulted with Congress throughout this process,” Obama replied. “I am confident that as commander in chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently.”
  3. “Fight” As close as Obama’s willing to get to saying the W-word. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday before departing for the United Nations, Obama said that U.S. air strikes in Iraq and Syria were “not America’s fight alone,” echoing his September 20 address in which he said that it was “a fight in which all countries have a stake.”
  4. “Campaign” Not unlike a swing through Iowa and New Hampshire! Explaining his expansion of the war into Syria on Tuesday, the president noted, “I made clear that as part of this campaign the United States would take action against targets in both Iraq and Syria so that these terrorists can’t find safe haven anywhere.”
  5. “A Moment of American Leadership.” Concluding his radio address on Saturday, Obama called this “a moment of American leadership … a moment we will meet.” Leadership. Exceptionalism. America.

In other words, this war is totally, definitely not a war.

This is Jessica Giddens. She was announced Homecoming Queen at her school in Georgia.

This is Jessica Giddens. She was announced Homecoming Queen at her school in Georgia.

The next story is something you just need to go and read in full…it is way too convoluted to quote from. Tommy Christopher: The Reason Why President Obama Nominated a Pro-Confederate, Anti-Choice Judge | The Daily Banter

As for Hillary, more shit is being flung her way: WND: Hillary Clinton Tolerates Rape Of Women | Right Wing Watch

WorldNetDaily columnist Gina Loudon is promoting her book “What Women Really Want” by arguing​ today that Republicans should be “giddy” about the prospect of running against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.

She calls on GOP politicians to attack Clinton for supposedly tolerating rape and other forms of violence against women: “If she stood passive while Islamic women were raped and stoned to death, what will she passively let happen to women were she president of the United States?”

Loudon goes on to claim that immigration reform and gun policy reform are part of the real “war on women.”

The first war is one where women are being serially gang-raped and stoned to death by Islamists across the world who believe women are only one-fifth of a person. If a woman is raped, under Shariah law, five men must testify that they witnessed the woman being raped. Otherwise, she is stoned to death in front of her friends and family. Christian and Jewish women are being led like lambs to slaughter by Islamists. There is definitely a war on women, but not the one the statist elites in D.C. like to pretend is happening. That is but a ruse designed to distract the simple minded.

Where are the old-school feminists who cussed conservative icons like Phyllis Schlafly and burned their bras in protest of equal pay, in the face of this bloody war on women? Do equal rights not to be stoned matter less than equal pay or birth control?

1977 Homecoming Queen of Gardendale High School in Gardendale, Alabama

1977 Homecoming Queen of Gardendale High School in Gardendale, Alabama

Where is Hillary on this? If I were GOP leadership, I would be giddy about the thought of a Hillary run. Aside from Benghazi, think about a campaign based on what she never did to stop the real war on women. If she stood passive while Islamic women were raped and stoned to death, what will she passively let happen to women were she president of the United States?

What the hell? I know, it is all shit talk. And there is more at that link.

Then you have this crap over at Politico about Chelsea and the “royal baby” What Should Chelsea Clinton Name Her Baby? – Adam B. Lerner – POLITICO Magazine

merica’s royal baby is on its way. I’m talking, of course, about the next member of the Clinton dynasty, whose arrival is by all accounts imminent. During a Sunday interview with CNN, Bill Clinton expressed his hope that “by the first of October, I’ll be a grandfather.” He also insisted that neither he nor his daughter knows whether or not the baby will be a boy or a girl.

The 1950 Homecoming Queen Candidates at Iowa State University

The 1950 Homecoming Queen Candidates at Iowa State University

Hillary Clinton weighed in too, admitting Friday that she’s “on grandbaby watch.” So, apparently, is the entire U.S. press corps. Because let’s face it: We love our own political dynasties as much as any British tabloid editor. As Mark Twain once put it, “Unquestionably the person that can get lowest down in cringing before royalty and nobility, and can get most satisfaction out of crawling on his belly before them, is an American. Not all Americans, but when an American does it he makes competition impossible.”

We admit it—much of the speculation about Chelsea Clinton’s newborn child is a bit premature and, frankly, more than a little ridiculous. It’s crazy to think that the 2016 presidential election could hinge on whether Hillary can take advantage of her new grandmotherly image, rather than, say, the state of the economy or the candidates’ positioning on other key issues.

Still, political insiders who analyze the Clintons’ every last move can rest assured: This is a family very in tune with their public image. Is it altogether nuts to think that they’d at least muse about the political opportunity presented by Chelsea’s baby?

The thing gets better, with name suggestions that are popular in Iowa and New Hampshire. One thing however, there is a picture of Chelsea with a big belly at the link.

Y’all have heard or read about the speech Emma Watson gave at the UN right? Emma Watson calls on men to help fight gender inequality: ‘It’s your issue too’

The website for  – He For She

 

The 1971 Homecoming Queen and her court in the Orange and Black yearbook of Wheaton Warrenville South High school, Wheaton, Illinois.

The 1971 Homecoming Queen and her court in the Orange and Black yearbook of Wheaton Warrenville South High school, Wheaton, Illinois.

Well, check this out: What is 4Chan? And why does it threaten women like Emma Watson? – The Independent

What or who is 4chan? And why are they such utter douchebags? That is the train of thought that presents itself at news that 4chan, implicated in the leaking of nude photos of celebrities, is now apparently targeting  Emma Watson, after the 24-year-old actress gave a rousing speech to the UN on Monday, not only addressing that favourite topic of the internet’s masses of misogynists, feminism, but daring to call for more men to take up the banner of gender equality.

Sissy Spacek, Homecoming Queen at Quitman High School, 1968

Sissy Spacek, Homecoming Queen at Quitman High School, 1968

The first question has an easy answer and a more complicated one. Simply, 4chan is an image-board website set up in 2003, by a 15-year-old insomniac. Posters start a thread with a picture; others can then comment. Loopiness runs right across the site. Users can lay some claim to setting the tastes of ‘the internet’: cats are, and have always been, big; trace the genesis of defining memes – Chocolate Rain, RickRolling – and you’ll end up somewhere in 4chan. Except, you may not. Old content on the site gets wiped to make space for the newer stuff – it’s up to other sites to archive what’s considered ‘valuable’; the jokes, the memes, the stolen nudes.

Then there’s /b/, the Random forum. It’s here that things can get a little ugly, and where the group (‘cultural movement’ is too flattering) known as Anonymous first took shape (users post as ‘Anon’ if they don’t specify a username). I spent a little time there about 5 years ago for a piece of coursework. It’s dirty and defiant about it: lots of porn, lots of racism, lots of sexism. If you object to such things, volubly, you a) won’t speak the same language of other users and b) will invite some fairly stiff abuse. Unsurprisingly, users are thought to belong predominantly in the young, white and male demographic. Humour ranges from the dark and funny to dark and hideously depressing.

 

Football Homecoming Court in the 1972

Football Homecoming Court in the 1972

It looks like many of those Anonymous hackers are part of this site:

It gets complicated when you try and define who or what Anonymous is. They are of course anonymous. Plus, there’s a loose hierarchy; when the group takes up a mass action – say, trying to shut down the Visa and Mastercard websites, in support of Julian Assange – the leaders work in tight-knit cells, then open their plans to the floor, so all the millions of other /b/ users can pile in. Gabriella Coleman, the foremost academic working on 4chan, reckons that something like a fifth of 4chan users are the ‘hackers’ that take precedence in media reporting, the rest, plain old geeks and freaks.

The thing is, since her speech, a threat against Watson has been made on the site…

All of which is to say, it’s pretty hard to tell the exact parties responsible for “Emma You Are Next” message and the countdown clock expiring in a few days’ time. There’s no such thing as a 4chan project organised from on-high but it’s perfectly that the website was set up by one or two regulars on the board. Equally possibly, they’re bluffing: /b/ has a history of hoaxing, and BusinessInsider reckons that’s what’s going on here. What isn’t in doubt, however, is that a few users have posted some vile stuff about Emma Watson: “It is real and going to happen this weekend”,  said one “That feminist b*** Emma is going to show the world she is as much of a whore as any woman.”

Homecoming Queen, 1956  The Duke University

Homecoming Queen, 1956 The Duke University

Oh, that is just a taste of the shit comments and backlash Emma is getting. It really pisses me off. Anyway, be sure to go back to the Independent article on the 4Chan site and finish reading about that sub-culture. It goes hand in hand with the attitude we see the male video gaming developers have towards women…the politicians on the Hill have towards women. And it all sucks ass.

In a related story, from earlier in September: High Schoolers Protest Sexist Dress Code That’s Landed More Than 100 Girls In Detention | ThinkProgress

Students at a Staten Island high school are frustrated with a strict new dress code that’s landing girls in detention for wearing shorts, despite the fact that many of their classrooms don’t have air conditioning. After the school reportedly gave detention to 200 kids — 90 percent of whom were female students — teens are gearing up for a protest again the rules.

84a0f6742b519415daba1831e0a00b10The interim principal at Tottenville High School recently changed the dress code to prohibit tank tops, low-cut shirts, and shorts that don’t reach fingertip length. But it’s been hot during the first few weeks of school, and students say it doesn’t make sense to crack down on them for dressing comfortably for their “sweltering” classrooms.

“That’s what girls wear when it’s hot out. It’s unfair to them,” a senior at the school told the Staten Island Advance.

[...]

Both male and female students have complained that the dress code is “sexist” and “biased” toward young women. “Tottenville should just be an all boys school considering this dress code is only affecting the girls,” one teen pointed out. Another said it was “humiliating to be pulled aside like an object” to be told that her outfit was inappropriate.

Robin Wright 1981

Robin Wright 1981

Amid the growing controversy, school district officials released a statement noting they reserve the right to enforce a dress code in cases when students’s clothing “creates a distraction, is dangerous, or interferes with the learning and teaching process.”

Schools typically justify their dress codes by maintaining that it’s important to keep the classroom free from distractions; however, that language actually reinforces the idea that women’s bodies are inherently tempting to men and it’s their responsibility to cover themselves up. Students and parents across the country are increasingly pushing back against the double standard, saying that it sends harmful messages about gender stereotypes to kids. After all, if students are taught that girls need to dress a certain way so they don’t “distract” boys, that ultimately furthers the idea that boys can’t control themselves — and that unwanted sexual attention is sometimes justified because girls are “asking for it” with their short skirts and low-cut tops.

Uh, on the “asking for it” stance, you know if they say no…there is always a way to turn that into a yes: Limbaugh on Sexual Assault: “No Means Yes If You Know How to Spot It”

Homecoming Queen and her Court, in the 1974

Homecoming Queen and her Court, in the 1974

The sweaty armpit of talk radio now fancies himself to be a “seduction” expert. On his show today, Rush Limbaugh decried Ohio State’s new policy instructing students to get explicit, verbal consent before having sex, because “no means yes if you know how to spot it.”

The context for that statement doesn’t help. Limbaugh apparently misses the good ol’ days when rape was just a “misunderstanding.” Here’s his argument, as recorded by Media Matters:

Seduction used to be an art, now of course it’s “brutish” and it’s “predatory” … [According to Ohio State policy,] consent must be freely given, can be withdrawn anytime, and the absence of “no” does not mean “yes.” How many guys, in your own experience with women, have learned that no means yes if you know how to spot it? … Are these [policies] not lawsuits waiting to happen?

Perhaps, sadly, this isn’t the case, but guys like Rush Limbaugh should expect to be arrested and prosecuted if they rape someone.

Homecoming Queen in the 1979

Homecoming Queen in the 1979

Meanwhile…you don’t want to be raped by a cop? Cop’s Tip For Not Getting Raped By A Cop: ‘Don’t Get Pulled Over’

In response to the arrests of three law enforcement officials in Oklahoma for sexually assaulting women while on the job, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper told women they can avoid getting raped by a cop if they simply follow traffic laws.

Raw Story first pointed out on Tuesday that Capt. George Brown, a state trooper, shared a few tips for women in an interview with local NBC News affiliate KJRH. Brown told the KJRH anchor that women can keep their car doors locked and speak through a cracked window if a trooper approaches them. If the trooper asks a woman to get out of the car, Brown said, she can ask “in a polite way” why he wants her to do that.

But the “best tip that he can give,” the anchor said on air of his interview with Brown, “is to follow the law in the first place so you don’t get pulled over.”

In the past month, a Tulsa County Deputy, an OHP trooper and an Oklahoma City police officer have all been charged with repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting women while on the job.

Diana Santifer - Homecoming Queen in the 1988

Diana Santifer – Homecoming Queen in the 1988

Brown said Oklahoma law enforcement officials are working to retain the public’s trust. “There are entirely more good officers than there are the few bad apples that exist out there, and we want people to know that,” Brown told KJRH. “We have a lot of good troopers, a lot of good officers out there doing a lot of good things daily, and we want to continue that and have the public continue their trust in us.”

Holy Shit! Emma Watson has a hell of a way to go in her fight to get men to treat women in a equally respectful manner.

And then there is the abortion issue: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Thinks This Justice Is Responsible For Halting Access To Abortions

Guess who Ginsburg calls out?

I will end this section of the thread with some good old fashioned pick-up lines…. The Greatest Movie Pick-Up Lines – Esquire

All 50 of them, from George Clooney to Will Ferrell and everything in between

My favorite…

“Will you marry me? Did he leave you any money? Answer the second question first.”
Groucho Marx, Duck Soup (1933)

In 1970, Doby Flowers became the first African-American women elected Homecoming Queen at FSU.

In 1970, Doby Flowers became the first African-American women elected Homecoming Queen at FSU.

Video at the link.

This post is getting real long…so on the quick:

Man confesses to ’97 crime, fearing Walmart was messaging him about woman he killed

Michael Brown memorial mysteriously burns overnight – Salon.com

Watch science-minded Breaking Bad fans send a Walter White bobblehead into the stratosphere · The A.V. Club

Scientists Capture The Sound Of A Single Atom, And Apparently It’s A ‘D-Note’

John Malkovich Morphs Into the Most Iconic Photo Subjects Ever – Esquire

Sandro Miller

Sandro Miller

That is not the famous Dorothea Lange photo. Nor are any of these photos the iconic pictures you know. Instead, they are recreations starring the one-and-only John Malkovich. In a new exhibit (opening November 7th at the Catherine Edelman Gallery) entitled, “Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich: Homage to photographic masters”, photographer Sandro Miller recreates some of photography’s most well-known pictures using the chameleon-like actor as his subject. The results are nothing short of perfect.

And I will end with this little story about being homesick for your hometown subway system. I guess we all have a homecoming we long for in our minds…(I prefer NYC subways to say, those in DC. Actually, NYC subways are exciting to me. Go figure.)…some are just darker or better mapped out than others.

New York’s subway is so hellish, I’m homesick for London’s underground | Bim Adewunmi | Comment is free | The Guardian



I am a city girl, accustomed to negotiating public transport, but faced with MTA’s needlessly complex map and messy signage, I become an overawed simpleton

New York City subway
‘You descend into the bowels of the city with no idea when your next train will be.’ Photograph: /Image Broker/REX

The best, most chilling dystopian novels are built around a simple idea: a world very much like the one we live in, except with little things slightly askew. You know: where the images appear sharp and crisp – until you get to the edges and find them blurry, smeared with Vaseline. Think of a book with an opening scene set in a village in rural England. There’s a winding country lane, and in the distance can be heard the relentlessly tuneful whistle of a milkman, and the gentle moo of a cow. Yes, there are still milkmen and there are still cows, but look closer: the cows are wearing smart white coats and jaunty little hats, delivering milk extracted from humans. Terrifying image, isn’t it?

For the past couple of weeks, I have been trapped in a dystopia of sorts. I am in New York, ostensibly on a sabbatical, during which I intended to rattle off a 400-page thriller and maybe have a romcom-style meet-cute in Central Park. Instead, I have found myself spiralling into hysteria, driven slowly mad by the New York subway. On first appearance, it is like the London underground – trains, tickets, announcements, the crush of bodies. But then, slowly, the entire system reveals itself to you. It is the work of a sadist, cooked up in a fever dream and delivered with a flourish and an unhinged grin. I cannot believe I am about to type these words, but here we are: New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has made me homesick for Transport for London. And I will never forgive New York for this.

No don’t say that! Anyway, enjoy that…And have a great day!