Thursday Reads

twitter-zombies

Good Morning!!

Tomorrow is Halloween, but the real horror will probably come next Tuesday when Republicans are predicted to take control of the Senate.

What will happen after that? Will they actually accomplish something, or will they just keep blocking everything President Obama tries to do? Even more horrifying, we may not know the makeup of the Senate for sure until next year, because two close races–in Georgia and Louisiana–will likely end up in runoffs.

Steven Brill at Reuters: Why Election Day won’t hold the answer to who will control the Senate for the next two years.

I’m not only thinking about the possibility that two close races — in Louisiana and Georgia — could end up requiring runoffs. If candidates do not get more than 50 percent of the vote because fringe opponents siphon off votes from the pair running neck and neck, Louisiana’s runoff would be in December and Georgia’s not until Jan. 6, 2015.

The uncertainty that’s more intriguing is that even after those runoffs, if they happen, there might be three independent senators who could swing the majority to one party or the other.

One, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, is a staunch liberal who will certainly cast his lot with the Democrats, as he has in the past. But Maine independent Angus King has not said for sure that he will continue to caucus with Democrats. And Kansas’s Greg Orman, an independent businessman who is locked in a tight race with incumbent Republican Pat Roberts, has steadfastly refused to say which party he would vote with.

Another longer-shot wild card is former Senator Larry Pressler of South Dakota. He is also running has an independent, but his rise in the polls has subsided recently.

One can only imagine what Orman and King will be promised by both sides if one or both become swing votes. Beyond that, there is a Democratic senator in a red state (John Tester in Montana) and even one or two moderate Republicans in a blue state and a swing state (Mark Kirk in Illinois and Susan Collins in Maine) who might be persuaded to flip.

But most of the so-called experts are predicting we’ll ultimately be stuck with a Republican-controlled Congress. Larry Sabato, Kyle Londik, and Geoffrey Skelley write at Politico: Bet on a GOP Senate.

While many races remain close, it’s just getting harder and harder to envision a plausible path for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate. Ultimately, with just a few days to go before the election, the safe bet would be on Republicans eventually taking control of the upper chamber.

Generally speaking, candidates who have leads of three points or more in polling averages are in solid shape to win, but in this election five states—Republican-held Georgia and Kansas, and Democratic-held Iowa, New Hampshire and North Carolina—feature a Senate race where both of the two major polling averages (RealClearPolitics and HuffPost Pollster) show the leading candidate with an edge of smaller than three points.

 What makes the Democrats’ situation so precarious is that Republicans have polling leads of more than three points in five other states, all of which are currently held by Democrats: Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Two others, Democratic-held Alaska and Colorado, show Republicans leading in both averages, but by more than three points in just one. (These averages are as of the afternoon of Oct. 29.)

Citizen-Kang_458

Read it and weep folks. On the other hand, Tarini Parti, also at Politico, points out that this is “[t]he most wide-open Senate election in a decade.”

It’s the largest and most wide-open Senate battlefield in more than a decade: ten races, all neck-and-neck affairs headed into the final days of the campaign.

And it’s not only that there are more competitive races this time around; it’s how close they are that has made the 2014 midterms different from previous cycles. The 10 close contests this year are all separated by 5 points or less, according to RealClearPolitics polling averages as of Tuesday….

Republicans have an edge in more than half of the competitive races, based on RCP averages, and are favored to gain control of the Senate. But many races across the country remain too close — with more contests coming down to the wire than in recent election cycles.

Based on interviews with a dozen operatives on both sides of the state of play, some of these tight races do lean toward one party or the other. Republicans — who need a net gain of six seats to win control of the chamber — are perhaps most confident about their chances in Arkansas, largely dismiss any trouble in Kentucky and remain somewhat nervous about Kansas. After a brief moment of panic in South Dakota, the state, along with West Virginia and Montana, is back to being considered safe for the GOP, as Virginia, Oregon and Michigan are thought to be solid for the Democrats.

At the outset of the cycle, Democrats saw Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina as their firewall against a GOP takeover. Today, those races are neck and neck — and Republicans are even bullish about their chances in New Hampshire. There remains some uncertainty among Republicans about Alaska, despite Republican Dan Sullivan’s edge in polls, because of a superior Democratic ground game and the difficulty of polling the state.

It all adds up to an unusually jumbled puzzle less than a week before Election Day. In 2010, Republicans won just three of the eight tight races — despite their national wave. But in 2006, Democrats won all five of the closest races.

It’s really going to come down to turnout, and Democrats are traditionally better at that. So there’s always a chance. Let’s face it, Republicans have done very well at blocking Obama’s initiatives and appointments throughout his presidency. No matter what happens on Tuesday, we have to elect a Democrat to the White House in 2016.

Finally, Reid Wilson at The Washington Post writes that this “[e]lection could tip historic number of legislatures into Republican hands.”

Again, what will a Republican Senate accomplish? The consensus of the pundits seems to be that they’ll do very little. A few predictions:

John Dickerson at Slate: “Republican victories will prove the president is unpopular. They won’t give Republicans a mandate to govern.”

Danny Vinik at The New Republic: Republicans Have Big Plans for a GOP Senate. Here’s What Will Come of Them: Nothing.

Paul Waldman at the WaPo: Republicans will probably take the Senate. Here’s why it will be a nightmare for them.

Republican Zombies and Democratic Vampires

On a lighter note, I came across some Halloween-themed comparisons between Democrats and Republicans from a few years back. From a blog called Entertained Organizer, Movie Monsters and Political Parties: A Spotters Guide to America’s Psyche.

A good friend and colleague of mine recently sent me a link to the Cracked.com article “6 Mind-Blowing Ways Zombies and Vampires Explain America.”  Basically, the article looks at the bizarre fact that Zombie movies are more likely to be made under Republican Presidents and Vampire movies are more likely to be made under Democratic Presidents, and argues rather persuasively it’s that each monster represents the cultures fears of the Party in power.  Here’s a chart from the original article at Cracked.com.

Chart zombies and vampires

 

The Cracked.com articles argument for why Zombies embody the country’s worst fears of Republicans is pretty simple.  They’re mindless killing machines (see President George W. Bush).  They have a rabid pack mentality leading them to consume (see anyone who seems to believe “The Free Market” and “God” are synonyms).  And they’re bent on destroying minorities (the living).  Now of course I have absolutely no idea where any of those ideas about Republicans came from, and am frankly shocked that anyone might think those things about our Conservative Opponents.

Cracked.com’s argument for why Vampires pique conservatives fears of Democrats is even simpler.  Vampires are murderous immigrants from foreign sounding places like Transylvania (or Mexico).  Once they arrive, vampires start seducing everyone pretty much indiscriminately as symbols of carnal lust (you think they tried to impeach Clinton over an affair? Nope, Vampire).  And of course, more than anything, Vampires are leeches.  Sure Dracula is after your blood and Democrats are after your tax dollars but in the Howard Jarvis Republican Party, I’m pretty sure taxes are scarier than bleeding out.

evil-republicans-pic

The author then goes on to identify other parties by the movie monsters they represent: Green Party = Werewolves; The American Independent/Constitution Party = Pod People; Lyndon LaRouche Supporters = The Creature from the Black Lagoon; Libertarians = Mummies.

And did you know that horror writer HP Lovecraft had some choice words for the Republican zombies? From Before It’s News:

“As for the Republicans—–how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical ‘American heritage’…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead.”

Street Harassment Follow-Up

A couple of days ago a video of a woman being harassed on the streets of New York City went viral. Dakinikat posted it in a comment on Tuesday, and JJ put it in her post yesterday. I found some interesting follow-up articles about the video that I want to share.

Here’s the video again:

At Slate, Hanna Rosin called attention to something I wondered about while I was watching the video. Where were the white men?

On Tuesday, Slate and everyone else posted a video of a woman who is harassed more than 100 times by men as she walks around New York City for ten hours. More specifically, it’s a video of a young white woman who is harassed by mostly black and Latino men as she walks around  New York City for ten hours. The one dude who turns around and says, “Nice,” is white, but the guys who do the most egregious things—like the one who harangues her, “Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful! You should say thank you more,” or the one who follows her down the street too closely for five whole minutes—are not.

This doesn’t mean that the video doesn’t still effectively make its point, that a woman can’t walk down the street lost in her own thoughts, that men feel totally free to demand her attention and get annoyed when she doesn’t respond, that women can’t be at ease in a public space in the same way men can. But the video also unintentionally makes another point, that harassers are mostly black and Latino, and hanging out on the streets in midday in clothes that suggest they are not on their lunch break. As Roxane Gay tweeted, “The racial politics of the video are fucked up. Like, she didn’t walk through any white neighborhoods?”

Here’s the supposed explanation:

The video is a collaboration between Hollaback!, an anti-street harassment organization, and the marketing agency Rob Bliss Creative. At the end they claim the woman experienced 100 plus incidents of harassment “involving people of all backgrounds.” Since that obviously doesn’t show up in the video, Bliss addressed it in a post. He wrote, “we got a fair amount of white guys, but for whatever reason, a lot of what they said was in passing, or off camera” or was ruined by a siren or other noise. The final product, he writes, “is not a perfect representation of everything that happened.” That may be true but if you find yourself editing out all the catcalling white guys, maybe you should try another take.

But Rosin notes that Bliss has had similar issues in the past.

This is not the first time Bliss has been called out for race blindness. In a video to promote Grand Rapids, Michigan, he was criticized for making a city that’s a third minority and a quarter poor look like it was filled with people who have “been reincarnated from those peppy family-style 1970s musical acts from Disney World or Knott’s Berry Farm,” as a local blogger wrote.

Activism is never perfectly executed. We can just conclude that they caught a small slice of catcallers and lots of other men do it too. But if the point of this video is to teach men about the day-to-day reality of women, then this video doesn’t hit its target.

Jessical Williams

Rosin recommends a video from Jessica Williams of The Daily Show. I watched it, and it’s terrific–plus it’s funny. Check it out.

On a more serious note, CNN reports that the woman in the viral video has been getting rape and death threats.

What started as an expose of the harassment women face in public has turned into fodder for death- and rape threats against the woman in the viral video….

“My nonverbal cues were saying, ‘Don’t talk to me.’ No eye contact. No friendly demeanor,” she said. “But they were ignoring my nonverbal cues.”

Roberts said the video is an accurate depiction of what she faces daily. For instance, there was a time when her grandfather died “and someone told me that they liked the way I looked.”

“It is all day long. It is every day,” she said. “That’s a typical day… It doesn’t matter what you wear.”

The 10 hours of footage was edited down to a 1:56 public service announcement for the anti-street harassment group Hollaback! It was shot by filmmaker Rob Bliss, who was wearing a hidden camera in his backpack.

“I have multiple experiences of sexual assault, which is why I wanted to be involved in this project,” Roberts said in a separate interview with HLN.

Also at CNN, Todd Leopold sort of misses the point, and wonders how men should approach women on the street. He quotes a 2010 piece by a woman named Katie Baker:

“There’s a huge difference between harassing a woman and trying to start a conversation,” she wrote. “Here are some tips: talk to her, not at her. Treat her with respect: be aware of her personal space, ask her how she’s doing or what she’s reading instead of commenting on her body parts, look at her face instead of her chest. If she ignores you, drops eye contact, or walks away, back off.

“It wasn’t rude of you to approach her, but she’s not being rude if she doesn’t want to keep talking to you, especially if you initiated conversation while she was running an errand, waiting for the bus, or on her computer at a coffee shop.”

But why do men feel they need to approach strange women at all? What if women did that to men?

Leopold also calls attention to a different kind of street harassment.

On the Reddit thread, which has drawn more than 6,500 comments, one man observed that lack of respect knows no gender.

“As a fat guy who once walked around NYC for a day sightseeing I got so many comments,” he wrote. “‘Lose weight, ass***e!’ ‘Hey fatty want me to buy you a hot dog?’ ‘Hey kill yourself you fat f***’ I would have been happy with just a ‘good morning.’ “

 Personally, as I love to say “hello” to strangers out in public. I’m a Midwesterner by birth, and that’s just how we are–friendly and open. Usually they seem to like it, but if people ignore me, I don’t take offense.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please share your links in the comment thread, and have a nice Thursday and a great Halloween!


Wednesday Reads: Safe…or not safe?

8785b62ad983646e2a97b9280b2a18baGood Morning

Sorry this is so late, I just could not get it together this morning. Let’s continue to blame it on the DISH blackout of my favorite and sanity saving Turner Broadcasting channel: TCM.

Starting off this post with a contradiction…at least I think it is.

New York City’s public transport system ranked world’s safest for women | Al Jazeera America

Compared to 15 of the world’s largest capital cities, New York City has the safest public transportation system for women and Bogotá has the most dangerous, according to a survey published Tuesday by Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Researchers surveyed more than 6,000 women in the 15 most populous world capitals and New York City to gauge women’s experiences with harassment and violence while riding public transportation. Survey questions focused on how safe women felt taking public transportation after dark, perceived risk and experience with verbal and physical harassment, the likelihood of bystander assistance and trust in authorities handling reported cases.

Cities were then scored and ranked in order of how safe their public transport systems are for women.

I always felt safe in the NYC subway system myself. But then that was back in 2000…while in DC a few years ago, that subway scared the crap outta me.

New York City led the pack with Tokyo and Beijing coming in second and third. Latin American cities ranked the lowest, with Bogotá being the worst, and Mexico City and Lima not too far ahead.

“Public transport is a nightmare,” explained Beatriz Rodriguez, 26, a domestic worker and resident of Bogotá. “Mobile phones are frequently stolen, and you can be a victim of harassment as I’ve been.”

“At first I thought what I felt against my back was a bag, but when I turned around, I realized it was a man rubbing up against me, exposing himself,” she lamented. “It’s disgusting to have to face this on your way to work.”

Safe transport

The survey’s findings reveal far-reaching consequences for women, especially those who live in low- or middle-income areas where they “tend to be more reliant on public transport and on non-motorized means,” said Mary Crass, head of policy at the International Transport Forum, an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) think-tank.

“When there is not frequent, reliable, accessible transport, this can affect women and anyone’s ability to access opportunity and notably employment in urban areas, which can make a big difference for women in particular,” she added.

In the United States, a record 40 percent of all households with children under 18 include mothers who are the sole or primary source of income for the family. Single mothers, with a median annual income of $23,000, are more likely to be dependent on public transportation to commute to their jobs, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In New York City 30 percent of women surveyed reported having experienced verbal or physical abuse while riding the city’s public transportation system, while in Mexico City more than 60 percent reported such violence.

Now I am glad that AJam mentioned the NYC verbal abuse because this is the subject of my next link:

Watch This Woman Receive 100 Catcalls While Walking Around For A Day

What is the scariest part of this video…is the dude who follows her around for a while and does not let up.

 

Ten hours of walking around New York City, 100 catcalls and one huge problem.

Rob Bliss of Rob Bliss Creative makes viral videos for a living and decided to use his craft to shine a light on street harassment, a pervasive issue affecting females around the world. Partnering with actress Shoshana B. Roberts and Hollaback, a nonprofit movement launched by activists to end street harassment, Bliss packaged his production as a PSA and offers viewers a different perspective on the problem.

“I felt like no one had ever really shown what it’s like to experience street harassment, more or less,” Bliss told The Huffington Post. “No one has — from a third-party perspective, on the outside looking in — been able to step back and look at it and watch it happen in front of them.”

81fdbbffe84fb39d68085fa029214848 His intent, he said, was to offer an “unbiased” look at what many women experience on a daily basis. “No messaging. No judgement. Let people view it as it is and talk about,” he added.

During filming, Bliss attached a GoPro camera to his back with a chest strap; he wore a yellow backpack, sunglasses and earbuds to look unassuming while walking five to 10 feet ahead of Roberts, who held two microphones in her hands. The actress wore simple clothes for the shoot: jeans and a black, crew-neck T-shirt.

“It was completely intentional that she wore what she wore,” Bliss said. “I wanted to fight back against the ‘Oh, she’s wearing blah blah blah.’ I didn’t want to give ammunition to anyone who may detract from this video. If she wanted to wear something that showed more skin, I definitely think that guys would have been louder and more vocal about this.”

Well, this is where you get down to it…

In 10 hours of walking, Roberts faced more than 100 instances of street harassment. Responses ranged from catcalls — “beautiful,” “sexy,” “God bless you” — to angry remarks.

“Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more,” one man said.

“You don’t wanna talk? Because I’m ugly? We can’t be friends, nothing? You don’t speak?” another persisted.

Multiple men walked with Roberts for extended periods of time. One remained silently at her side for five minutes.

“I was going in blind without expectations, especially as a guy,” Bliss told HuffPost. “I was very surprised that we had so much interaction, some of it being as aggressive as it was, [like] the stalking that was involved repeatedly from different groups. That blew my mind. It made me sick to my stomach. I felt something I had never really felt before, almost feeling as if I were in her shoes. I didn’t experience it personally, but I was in such close proximity to it.”

Roberts was not immediately available for comment when contacted by HuffPost, but she told Hollaback, “I’m harassed when I smile and I’m harassed when I don’t. I’m harassed by white men, black men, Latino men. Not a day goes by when I don’t experience this.”

Read more about the group called HollaBack:

Hollaback! You have the power to end street harassment  A non-profit and movement to end street harassment powered by local activists in 79 cities and 26 countries 

Since this post is so damn late, I will give you a quick trip through the rest of today’s links.

Bill Cosby has another actress giving details of abuse: Actress Details Years of Alleged Rape and Manipulation by Bill Cosby

How I wish Obama had never opened the Birth Control religious conscience can of worms…New birth-control rules found too demanding : SCOTUSblog

There is a shit can of worms that should be opened here in Georgia. I am talking about a whole mess of voters that seem to be totally fucked over: BREAKING: Court Refuses To Intervene In Case of 40,000 Missing Voters In Georgia | ThinkProgress

When I saw this next headline, I immediately thought of Brawndo…it’s got electrolytes. But seriously: BBC News – UN urges salt-damage solution to reduce threat to crops

About 2,000 hectares of fertile land are lost each day due to damage caused by salt, according to a UN analysis.

The total area now affected is equivalent to the size of France – 62 million hectares – which has increased from 45 million 20 years ago.

In other “science” news: Vaccine ‘success’ raises hopes of saving koalas from chlamydia  Now that is something hopefully one day we will have a vaccine for humans.

Sticking with science stuff: Pope reminds Catholics: evolution, Big Bang are true | Ars Technica

Pope Francis took a stroll yesterday from the Vatican guest house apartment where he lives over to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to unveil a bust of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The bust itself is rather Teutonically foreboding, but the most interesting bit of the unveiling came when Francis made a short speech to assembled members of the Academy. Though only a few paragraphs long (and currently available only in Italian; the translation below is unofficial), Francis’s remarks focused largely on evolution—still a controversial doctrine in parts of the worldwide Christian church.

“When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we are in danger of imagining that God was a magician, complete with a magic wand capable of doing anything,” Francis said. “But he was not. He created beings and let them develop in accordance with the internal laws that He has given to each one.”

Tell it to the right-wing bible thumping nuts who think the world is only 6,000 years old.

More at the link.

And hey…since we’ve got articles on birth control in humans…chlamydia in koalas…how about A battle for ant sperm?

8c3319c725bc93094041cefc7d5d811eAnd a little something on:  Spiders and transgenic goats lead to new silk road | Al Jazeera America

For scientists around the world, a multibillion dollar prize has been hiding from them in cobwebs floating just above their office desks.

It’s the hunt for spider silk — and an efficient way to make a lot of it — that has evaded researchers for the last two decades. But why are they after spider silk?

As Professor Randy Lewis of Utah State University puts it, it’s the “ancient biomaterial of the future.” Spiders have made their silk for 400 million years, and we’re just now beginning to realize just how strong, absorbent and useful it is.

The other story about the goats: From spiders to goats in search of silk | Al Jazeera America

There is a new app that looks like it will be beneficial: UK charity launches app to scan for suicidal tweets

And if you don’t feel suicidal now…take a look at this funny thread from TBogg: It’s a Very Duggar Wedding Registry: What would Jesus buy?

The reality that these Duggar people are out there, and they have a following…and that following votes, should be enough to get you tweeting things that could trigger that new Twitter app.

 

Finally, from Medievalist.net: The Re-medievalization of Halloween

From punkin chunkin to the newfound popularity of witches, the festival of Halloween is reaching back to the Middle Ages for its traditions. Is this a good thing for medievalists?

This is the question raised by M.J. Toswell in her paper, “The Dangers of the Search for Authencity? The Ethics of Hallowe’en”, which appears in the latest issue of Studies in Medievalism. The Western University professor examines how the popular North American holiday is in recent years seeking to give “a veritably medieval experience.”

 

Interesting read…give it a look.

All I know is that I am so ready to get medieval on DISH’s ass!

heracliteanfire:</p><br />
<p>‘Marginalia of the earliest known illustrated example of a witch on a broomstick in the 1451 manuscript, Hexenflug der Vaudoises (Flight of the Witches), authored by Martin Le France (1410-1461).’ (via Letterology: Halloween Heresy)<br /><br />
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<p><a href=heracliteanfire: ‘Marginalia of the earliest… | Illumanu

‘Marginalia of the earliest known illustrated example of a witch on a broomstick in the 1451 manuscript, Hexenflug der Vaudoises (Flight of the Witches), authored by Martin Le France (1410-1461).’ (via Letterology: Halloween Heresy)

 

Whats going on in your neck of the woods?


Tuesday Reads: Jonas Salk, the Polio Vaccine, and Today’s For-Profit, Fear-Based Culture

Puppy in vest

 

Good Morning!!

I thought I’d illustrate today’s post with photos of cute puppies to offset the generally horrible news. The photo above comes from yesterday’s Boston Globe, Puppy in Boston Police Department Bulletproof Vest Melts Internet.

The photo, which was posted to Reddit, is from Massachusetts Vest-A-Dog, a non-profit that helps provide bulletproof vests, essential equipment, training, and purchase of dogs for police and law enforcement K-9 programs throughout the state.

“As K-9s are trained to give up their lives to protect their partners and all of us, we believe it is every bit as important to protect them,” according to www.mavestadog.org.

The story says the puppy’s name is Tuco, after a character in Breaking Bad.

Did you see today’s Google doodle? It honors what would have been Jonas Salk’s 100th birthday.

In 1954, I was 6 years old and I was among the first wave of kids who got the experimental polio vaccine at my school. We were living in Lawrence, Kansas then, and I attended Cordley Elementary School. I’m not sure if this was when I was in the first or second grade (I started kindergarten at age 4). Another girl in my class had already gotten polio and one of her legs was paralyzed. I don’t know if I was in the experimental or control group, but I do recall getting another shot the following year. Children from 44 states participated in the tests.

puppies1

A look back at Salk’s work highlights the vast differences between American culture in the mid-1950s and today. Salk never patented the vaccine, because he wanted it to be distributed to as many children as possible; so he never made a cent from his discovery. In some ways the 1950s were the bad old days, but most Americans still believed in pulling together for the public good–maybe it was a hangover from WWII.

From The Washington Post, JONAS SALK: Google says ‘thanks’ to the heroic polio-vaccine developer with birthday Doodle, by Michael Cavna.

As so many tens of thousands of children suffered from polio into midcentury, his vaccine began as the stuff of dreams; by the mid-’50s, it was the substance of a profoundly life-altering reality.

Dr. Salk had begun his journey a coast away; he got his medical degree in 1939, at the New York University School of Medicine, and was working at the city’s Mount Sinai Hospital before a research fellowship at the University of Michigan — with his mentor — beckoned. In 1947, he moved to head up the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Virus Research Laboratory, where he did the real groundbreaking work in his march toward a vaccine for paralytic poliomyelitis, or polio.

The goal, of course, was to trigger the body’s own defenses — so it would build immunity against the disease. Salk believed that antibodies could be produced by injecting not a live virus, but rather a deactivated (non-infectious) one.

At this point, enough necessary tumblers clicked into place. For one, the team of Harvard scientist John Enders solved how to grow the pure polio virus in the test tube — a crucial step that enabled Salk’s effective experimentation with a “killed virus.” And then there were the needed funds — Salk got backing from the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation).

In 1954, at least 1-million children — the Polio Pioneers — were tested across the nation (this followed testing that ranged from monkeys to Salk’s own family). The vaccine was announced as safe and largely effective on April 12, 1955.

“In the two years before [the] vaccine was widely available, the average number of polio cases in the U.S. was more than 45,000,” according to the Salk Institute. “By 1962, that number had dropped to 910.”

 Now we have panic over Ebola, and instead of focusing on developing a vaccine we have politicians cutting funds for medical research and ginning up public panic for their own selfish purposes, academics and corporations more interested in profits than saving lives, and ignorant people refusing to vaccinate their children.

puppies4

From The Atlantic, The Anti-Vaccine Movement Is Forgetting the Polio Epidemic, by Jennie Rothenberg Gritz.

It started out as a head cold. Then, the day before Halloween, 6-year-old Frankie Flood began gasping for breath. His parents rushed him to City Hospital in Syracuse, New York, where a spinal tap confirmed the diagnosis every parent feared most in 1953: poliomyelitis. He died on his way to the operating room. “Frankie could not swallow—he was literally drowning in his own secretions,”wrote his twin sister, Janice, decades later. “Dad cradled his only son as best he could while hampered by the fact that the only part of Frankie’s body that remained outside the iron lung was his head and neck.”

At a time when a single case of Ebola or enterovirus can start a national panic, it’s hard to remember the sheer scale of the polio epidemic. In the peak year of 1952, there were nearly 60,000 cases throughout America; 3,000 were fatal, and 21,000 left their victims paralyzed. In Frankie Flood’s first-grade classroom in Syracuse, New York, eight children out of 24 were hospitalized for polio over the course of a few days. Three of them died, and others, including Janice, spent years learning to walk again.

Then, in 1955, American children began lining up for Jonas Salk’s new polio vaccine. By the early 1960s, the recurring epidemics were 97 percent gone.

Salk, who died in 1995, would have turned 100 on October 28. He is still remembered as a saintly figure—not only because he banished a terrifying childhood illness, but because he came from humble beginnings yet gave up the chance to become wealthy. (According to Forbes, Salk could have made as much as $7 billion from the vaccine.) When Edward R. Murrow asked him who owned the patent to the vaccine, Salk famously replied, “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

Can you imagine that happening today? Read much more about Salk at the Atlantic link.

PETS_LONMED_2034_10

Today it’s all about corporations making money from people’s misery. From LA CityWatch, How Sick is This Generation’s Pills for Profit Philosophy? by Bob Gelfand.

Here are two seemingly unrelated stories that nevertheless intersect. The first involves a scientific lecture I heard the other day. Without going into details, the story involves the discovery of a naturally occurring small protein that treats some of the symptoms of diabetes when injected into rodents, and also slows the growth of cancer cells grown in culture. It is a marvelous discovery and is supported by numerous control experiments that are very convincing.

The scientist, in a later conversation, explained that the patent on this discovery had already been submitted, even though the scientific papers  had not all been written and submitted to journals.

In another lecture a few weeks earlier, but at the same institution, we heard from a venture capitalist. He explained that the pharmaceutical companies are only interested in developments that promise to show a billion dollars in sales.

In yet a third talk by an administrator, the resident scientists and physicians were encouraged to work with the institution’s patent office as early as possible on any patentable application.

The subject of this discussion is the monetization of science and its application to pharmaceutical research. It was not always so. In some ways this is a bad thing, and in other ways it is not.

The great counterargument to the direct monetization of scientific discovery is the story of the polio vaccine. Jonas Salk and his financial supporters made no attempt to patent the Salk vaccine. There are competing stories as to the motives and law that led to this decision. One argument is that the research had been paid for by tens of millions of donations through organizations such as the March of Dimes. Another argument is that the lawyers did not believe that a patent application would be upheld. Salk famously stated that the vaccine presumably belonged to the people, perhaps implying that the mass of Americans through their donations had already earned the right to the vaccine.

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Here’s latest on the Ebola panic front. Kaci Hickox escaped her imprisonment by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie only to end up under the thumb of another stupid Republican governor Maine’s Paul LePage. Fox News reports, New fight over Ebola quarantine looms as nurse returns to Maine.

Kaci Hickox left a Newark hospital on Monday and was expected to arrive in the northern Maine town of Fort Kent early Tuesday. Maine health officials have already announced that Hickox is expected to comply with a 21-day voluntary in-home quarantine put in place by the state’s governor, Paul LePage.

However, one of Hickox’s lawyers, Steve Hyman, said he expected her to remain in seclusion for only the “next day or so” while he works with Maine health officials. He said he believes the state should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that require only monitoring, not quarantine, for health care workers who show no symptoms after treating Ebola patients.

“She’s a very good person who did very good work and deserves to be honored, not detained, for it,” he said.

LePage defended the quarantine in a news release Monday, saying that state officials must be “vigilant in our duty to protect the health and safety of all Mainers.” Adrienne Bennett, a spokeswoman for the governor, told the Portland Press Herald that authorities would take “appropriate action” if Hickox does not comply with the quarantine, though she did not specify what that action might be.

The Portland Press Herald isn’t sure whether Hickox’s Maine quarantine is voluntary or required.

Bennett, when asked whether a 21-day quarantine was mandatory or voluntary for Hickox, at first told the Portland Press Herald early Monday afternoon that it was “voluntary.” Later in the afternoon, she wrote in an email that Hickox was expected to follow the quarantine.

“We fully expect individuals to voluntarily comply with an in-home quarantine. If an individual is not compliant, the state is prepared to take appropriate action,” Bennett wrote. She was asked repeatedly by the Press Herald to clarify what “appropriate action” was, but did not respond.

Whether Hickox, who worked in Sierra Leone for Doctors Without Borders, would abide by a quarantine is unknown. Her New York attorney, Steven Hyman, emphasized her civil rights.

“There is no basis (for her) to be kept in quarantine or isolation,” Hyman said. “We are prepared to establish that in a court of law.” [....]

The Maine Attorney General’s Office declined to comment. Dr. Dora Anne Mills, a former director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said she does not believe the state could impose a quarantine without a court order.

Meanwhile Chris Christie is still making a fool of himself in public. Politico reports that he’s now claiming he knows better than the CDC.

The Republican governor has faced criticism from the White House and some health experts over his and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s policy for a 21-day mandatory quarantine for aid workers returning from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa.
Appearing on NBC’s “Today” on Tuesday, Christie said again that mounting evidence shows that the CDC will eventually come around to his policy.

“[T]he CDC has been behind on this. Folks got infected in Texas because they were behind,” Christie said, in reference to the multiple Ebola cases in Dallas. “And we’re not going to have folks being infected in New Jersey and in other states in this country. Governors ultimately have the responsibility to protect the public health and the public safety of the people within their borders when folks come in with this problem.”

He cited the five other states — Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New York and Georgia — where quarantines are in place, as well as reports that the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the military impose a 21-day quarantine for troops returning from West Africa. A Defense Department spokesman declined to confirm those reports on Monday.

The governor criticized both the CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci in particular, the director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has criticized the quarantine policy. Appearing on the Sunday talk shows, Fauci called mandatory quarantine policies not “based on scientific data.”

“I think Dr. Fauci is responding … in a really hyperbolic way because they’ve been wrong before,” Christie said when asked about Fauci’s criticism.

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo looks like a fool too. From The Buffalo News:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Ebola quarantine policy met with withering criticism Monday from AIDS experts who said it could be counterproductive as well as the governor’s Republican campaign opponent, who said it didn’t go far enough.
Three days after Cuomo imposed a 21-day quarantine on health workers returning from Ebola-stricken nations and a day after the governor relaxed that policy to allow people to serve their quarantines at home, more than 100 AIDS activists, researchers and doctors wrote a letter to the governor condemning his actions on Ebola.

The governor’s quarantine policy “is not supported by scientific evidence” and “may have consequences that are the antithesis of effective public health policy,” said the letter, which was signed by AIDS activists such as the head of ACT UP NY as well as more than 35 physicians, including medical school professors at Columbia, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Yale.

Most notably, quarantines “will potentially have a profound effect on efforts to recruit U.S.-based health care professionals who are desperately needed to help combat the burgeoning epidemic in West Africa while increasing stigma toward persons who come from those countries,” the letter said.
Meanwhile, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the GOP candidate for governor, criticized the governor for shifting stances on the quarantine.

“What we’re getting is a governor who’s winging it, changing the policy all the time,” Astorino said while campaigning in New Rochelle. “It’s very confusing, and it could lead to health risks for many people.”

Finally, Dallas nurse Amber Vincent has recovered and will be leaving the hospital soon.

I have a few more articles that I’ll post in the comment thread. What stories are you following today? See you down below, and have a terrific Tuesday!

 


Extra Lazy Saturday Afternoon Reads

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Good Afternoon!!

It’s looking like Massachusetts may be on the verge of electing another Republican governor, and suddenly I’m feeling even sicker than I have been with this cold I can’t get rid of.

Breaking news this morning from The Boston Globe, Charlie Baker jumps 9 points in new Globe poll.

Republican Charlie Baker has opened up a 9-point lead over Democrat Martha Coakley, 45 percent to 36 percent, according to a new Globe poll that depicts a far more comfortable advantage than either candidate for governor has enjoyed in months.

The poll reflects an October surge in independent voters toward Baker’s column. It was independents who provided Governor Deval Patrick with his margins of victory in 2006 and 2010.

Baker’s standing has improved from last week’s poll, which showed the two candidates dead even. It can be attributed largely to the gains he has made in voters’ perceptions of who would improve the economy and manage state government, areas that already were tilting his way. At the same time, Baker has offset the deficits he faced on issues such as education and health care, where Coakley still holds an edge, but a diminished one.

“There is just positive movement in every single metric we can ask around Baker,” said pollster John Della Volpe, chief executive of SocialSphere Inc., which conducts the weekly poll for the Globe. “The more voters have gotten to know him, the stronger he performs.”

What is it with this supposedly liberal state? Since I moved here more than 40 years ago, we have had mostly Republican governors. I can’t understand why Massachusetts would elect another one, especially after our experience with Mitt Romney. We’ve also never had a woman elected governor. Republican Jane Swift was governor for two years, but that was because, as lieutenant governor, she took over for Paul Celluci, who resigned to become ambassador to Canada under George W. Bush.

As for getting to know Baker, what does that mean? Do voters really know his history? Or are they responding to political advertising?

Overall, Baker has moved from 38 percent support to 45 percent since late August. Coakley dropped 5 points this week, the poll found, after having held steady throughout much of the fall. Baker’s growth, said Della Volpe, has come almost entirely from voters who have made up their minds since the beginning of September. Eleven percent of voters remain undecided….

The poll depicts an electorate highly susceptible to the recent barrage of political advertising on television. Two weeks ago, Coakley, the state’s attorney general, led Baker by 5 points in the same poll. According to estimates from Kantar Media/CMAG, a firm that tracks political television commercials, $2.2 million in ads paid for by gubernatorial candidates and allied groups — more than 1,700 individual spots — aired on broadcast television from Oct. 12 through Oct. 19.

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I didn’t know much about Baker until I read a very disturbing story in the Globe this week, Mental health record may be predictor for Charlie Baker. It turns out Baker was the architect of a damaging mental health privatization policy in Massachusetts that is still reverberates across the state today. (I’ve emphasized some points in the article with bold type.)

It was early 1991, Baker was Massachusetts’ new undersecretary for health, and the 34-year-old Harvard grad was having his first look at the state’s decrepit mental hospitals.

Soon after, a special state commission recommended closing nine of the state’s most antiquated institutions, including Danvers and two other hospitals for mentally ill patients, and moving much of that care to the community. It was Baker’s job to get it done. His strategy involved a first-in-the-nation use of a for-profit company with power to approve or deny treatments for low-income mental health patients.

Baker’s blueprint saved Massachusetts millions of dollars at a time when the state was staring at a nearly $2 billion deficit, but it left thousands of mental health patients often waiting weeks for treatments. The controversial approach became his template for rescuing financially ailing Harvard Pilgrim Health Care a decade later.

The aftershocks of both initiatives are still being felt as the now 57-year-old Republican runs for governor, and those experiences, say Baker supporters and critics, provide a window into how he might handle similarly fraught and costly issues if elected.

Baker’s claim to fame is that as CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, he  kept the company from going bankrupt. Democratic ads have publicized the fact that he “raised premiums 150 percent and tripled his own salary to $1.7 million during his decade at Harvard Pilgrim.” One of the ways he saved money for Harvard Pilgrim was by laying of lots of workers and outsourcing their jobs to India. He even won an “Outsourcing Excellence Award” in 2008.

Back to the Globe article on Baker’s mental health record. There were vast financial profits for the state, and some low income mental health patients did benefit short-term. But overall,

…the separate move to privatize mental health care, with a for-profit company controlling treatment and costs, meant 800 state mental health workers were laid off and their work farmed out to private clinics that received less state money. Long waiting lists ensued for community services.

“It was a disaster,” said Dr. Matthew Dumont, former director of the Chelsea Community Counseling Center, where the number of psychiatrists and other caregivers, including Dumont, was cut from 23 to six. Dumont said the clinic was no longer able to provide a critical service he believes was a lifeline for mental health patients — home visits.

Over the next several years, suicide rates among mental health patients who had received state services soared. That prompted a blistering 1997 report from a legislative panel that criticized the Weld administration for lax monitoring of patients and failing to investigate their deaths in a timely way.

Two years later, a Brandeis University study gave the state high marks for innovative community-based mental health programs launched during the 1990s, but found too many patients waiting for services….

“It’s still a revolving door,” said Dumont, the former director of the Chelsea counseling center who lives with the legacy of privatizing mental health services when he evaluates patients for the state’s public defender agency. He said he has to scrounge to find places that will take indigent defendants who have been in and out of mental health facilities.

Read about Baker’s future plans for mental health care in Massachusetts at the link.

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What’s happening in Kentucky?

Is Mitch McConnell getting nervous about holding onto his Senate seat? The Hill reports today that McConnell has just written a personal check to his campaign for $1.8 million dollars to counter the recent DSCC purchase of TV ads in support of challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. From The Hill:

A week ago it appeared the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was giving up on the race when it pulled the plug on television advertising after a $1.4 million buy.

But the Democratic Party committee plunged back into this fight this week by announcing it would spend another $650,000 on television ads to help Alison Lundergan Grimes against McConnell. The Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic super-PAC, followed up with a pledge to spend $850,000 in the state.

McConnell has a stable lead in polls, but doesn’t want to let the new Democratic ads go unmatched. He has long pledged to his Republican colleagues that he would not take any party funds to help win reelection.

Maybe it doesn’t mean anything; we’ll have to wait and see. Meanwhile a couple more articles on the Kentucky Senate race.

The Courier-Journal, Grimes pledges to fight for Kentuckians’ rights.

On the stump, she’s a Clinton Democrat. In GOP attacks, she’s a cheerleader for Barack Obama. Political allies — and opponents — know her as the daughter of Jerry Lundergan, former head of the Kentucky Democratic Party.

For her part, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes calls herself a “Kentucky filly,” charging toward victory in her bid to unseat Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and become the state’s first female U.S. senator.

“This is a strong … independent Kentucky woman,” Grimes tells crowds on the campaign trail, while pledging to defend Medicare and Social Security benefits, fight for a higher minimum wage and support pay equality for women.

“She will fight for the people of Kentucky like we have never been fought for before,” she promises, speaking in the third person.

But 16 months after announcing her candidacy, political observers say Grimes still faces challenges in defining herself to Kentucky voters who overwhelmingly dislike Obama and have largely turned away from Democrats in most federal elections.

Apparently, it’s all about how much Kentuckians feel about Clinton and Obama. I hope Bill has plans to stump for Grimes again close to election day.

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Brian Beutler at The New Republic reports on McConnell’s refusal to respond to questions about privatizing Social Security.

The reporters appear to be referencing this encounter McConnell had at the Louisville Rotary Club with reporter Joe Sonka. At the event, McConnell had expressed remorse that he couldn’t wrangle any Democrats into supporting George W. Bush’s 2005 effort to, as McConnell put it, “fix Social Security.”

Sonka asked him if he’d revisit that effort in 2015, and McConnell said, “I’m not announcing what the agenda would be in advance. We’re not in the majority yet. We’ll have more to say about that later.”

So McConnell dodged a pretty straightforward question about the Republican policy agenda, and, should he become majority leader, his own substantive goals.

A central theme of McConnell’s campaign is that Kentuckians shouldn’t replace a guy who stands to become an agenda setter in Washington with Grimes, who would be a freshman with comparably little power. Vis a vis less politically contentious issues, he’s more than happy to explain how he’d use that power.

One of the goals McConnell has been open about is “going after the EPA,” which he claims is hurting Kentucky’s economy.

So it’s inconsistent of him to hold his cards close to the vest when the issue is privatizing Social Security rather than gunning for the EPA. It would’ve been easy enough for him to say that private accounts are going to stay on the shelf, where they’ve been, for all intents and purposes, since 2005. Or that it wouldn’t be worth the hassle, since President Obama would surely veto such a bill. Instead he said the agenda isn’t up for public discussion until he’s granted the agenda-setting power.

I’m sure McConnell realizes that his constituents wouldn’t be too happy about attacks on Social Security . . .

The Texas Voter ID Law

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From MSNBC, a depressing story about the Texas voter ID law, Texas woman threatened with jail after applying for voter ID.

An Austin, Texas woman told msnbc she was threatened with jail time for having an out-of-state driver’s license when she went to apply for a voter identification card so she could vote under the state’s controversial ID law. She said she was so intimidated she left without getting the ID she needed — and which she’d been trying to get for a year.

Lynne Messinger’s account highlights the obstacles that some Texans face as they try to obtain a voter ID — despite the state’s assurances that getting one doesn’t pose a burden.

Messinger, 62 and a musician, said she brought her birth certificate to aTexas’ Department of Public Safety (DPS) office in south Austin Thursday in an effort to get a voter ID. She needs one because Texas’s strict ID law doesn’t accept out-of-state driver’s licenses.

Messinger said she spoke to a clerk at the desk, and explained that she had a California driver’s license. She has houses in both California and Texas and goes back and forth between the two, but decided several years ago to switch her voting residency to Texas.

The clerk left for a few minutes, then told her to take a seat. At that point, Messinger said, a state trooper summoned her into his back office, saying he needed to speak to her. Once inside his office, Messinger said the trooper insisted on seeing all the documentation she had brought, and demanded to know where she lives and pays taxes. He even told her she could be jailed for driving with a California license.* It is illegal to drive in Texas on another state’s driver’s license 90 days after moving into the state.

“It was like a Nazi interrogation about how I cant be driving with a California ID,” Messinger said. “I was completely intimidated and freaked out.”

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Here’s a very interesting read on Chief Justice Roberts and Voter ID laws from The Atlantic, On Race and Voter ID, John Roberts Wants It Both Ways. The author, Garrett Epps discusses Roberts’ views on race, and concludes that “[t]he idea that government must not discriminate by race seems to be important to the chief.” But . . .

Which brings us to Veasey v. Perry, the voting-rights case in which the Court issued its 5 a.m. order on Saturday. That order allowed Texas’ draconian voter-ID law, known as SB 14, to take effect for the midterm elections next month—the first general election to which it will be applied. It is customary to speak of SB 14 as a “tough” voter-ID law, but it might be better to speak of it as a discriminatory voter-ID law, inspired by the intent to disfranchise black and Latino voters.

That’s not my inference; it was the considered factual finding of federal district Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos. (Ramos is an Obama appointee, but one endorsed for the bench by Republican Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson and John Cornyn.) Ramos based her conclusion on a nine-day trial in which both the state and the plaintiffs presented evidence about SB 14’s history and effect. That effect is startling—Ramos found that the law might disfranchise as much as 4.5 percent of the state’s eligible voters. But more important is her conclusion about the law’s intent (emphasis added):

The record as a whole (including the relative scarcity of incidences of in-person voter impersonation fraud, the fact that SB 14 addresses no other type of voter fraud, the anti-immigration and anti-Hispanic sentiment permeating the 2011 legislative session, and the legislators’ knowledge that SB 14 would clearly impact minorities disproportionately and likely disenfranchise them) shows that SB 14 was racially motivated.

This is a devastating finding. The judge is not saying that the law has a disproportionate effect on minorities; she is saying that it was specifically written to prevent them from voting. Because it was intentional race discrimination, she found, it violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, the prohibition of racial restrictions on the vote in the 15th Amendment—and also the prohibition of poll taxes in the 24th Amendment.

Read much more at the link. It’s an important article.

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Washington School Shooting

More details are coming out about the school shooting in Washington state. From The Seattle Times, Teen shooter targets 3 girls, 2 male cousins.

A freshman homecoming prince, reportedly angry about a girl, pulled out a gun and opened fire in a crowded cafeteria at Marysville-Pilchuck High School Friday morning, killing one classmate and wounding four others before fatally shooting himself.

At 10:39 a.m., as hundreds of students gathered for lunch on the sprawling campus, Jaylen Fryberg walked up to a cafeteria table, pulled out a gun and shot three teen girls and two teenage male cousins, witnesses and authorities said….

Fryberg and a girl were confirmed dead. The girl’s name was not released.

Two boys and two girls were taken by ambulance to Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. As of Friday night, the two girls were alive and in intensive care with gunshot wounds to the head, said Dr. Joanne Roberts, chief medical officer for Providence. It will be several days before a prognosis could be made, she said.

The wounded boys were identified by family members as Andrew Fryberg, 15, and Nate Hatch, 14 — both cousins to Jaylen Fryberg. Both also were shot in the head. They were initially taken to Providence and later transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where Andrew was in serious condition and Nate was in critical condition.

“He shot people he cared about,” said friend and football teammate Dylen Boomer.

I guess we’ll learn more as time goes on. These school shootings make no sense to me.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please share your links in the comment thread and enjoy your weekend!


Monday Reads

Morning Coffee, by Christina Madden

Morning Coffee, by Christina Madden

Welcome to Morbid Monday!!

 

I haven’t had a regular work schedule for  years, so why do the days of the week still affect me as they did when I had a 9-5 job or when I was in school? Is it because I need some kind of structure in my life? I still look forward to weekends and I still dislike Monday mornings. Why is that? Is it because the world around me is structured that way? Or is it because I was conditioned from childhood to our society’s weekly scheduling?

Anyway, I’m still recovering from a combination cold and stomach virus, and it’s Monday; so I’m slow on the uptake today, and I just hope this post will make sense. Healthwise, I’m better off than Dakinikat and JJ. Actually, Dakinikat and her computer are both under the weather, so I’m filling in for her today. The photos of giant coffee cups show how I feel about Mondays!

Here are the stories that most interested me this morning.

Ferguson, Missouri

Did you read that awful New York Times story that reported on leaks from “officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation” into the shooting of teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson? According to the Times, these “officials” were not members of the Ferguson police department or from “officials whose activities are being investigated as part of the civil rights inquiry.” So does that mean Justice Department “officials?” Or are these “officials” from St. Louis? Who the hell knows. But the slant of the story was toward exonerating Wilson and making it appear that Brown deserved to die.

Here’s a summary of Wilson’s version of events from Newsweek:

The official testimony that Officer Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed the unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, gave to authorities was revealed for the first time in a Friday New York Times report.

During the struggle, the officer claimed that Brown reached for his gun. Wilson told investigators that the two struggled over the weapon before the fatal shooting, that Brown assaulted him and he “feared for his life” that day. He also said that Brown had scratched and punched him multiple times, which resulted in cuts and swelling on his face and neck.

According to forensic tests, the gun went off twice in Wilson’s S.U.V., and shot Brown in the arm once. The test also confirmed that Brown’s blood was found in Wilson’s car, his uniform and his gun. The autopsy confirmed that Brown had been shot a total of six times upon his death.

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In my opinion we’re being softened up for the blow that will come next month when the Grand Jury fails to indict Wilson. Whoever the “officials” who talked to the NYT are, they apparently don’t want the Justice Department to find that Wilson violated Michael Brown’s rights. Otherwise, why would they be leaking this information? The Washington Post story is also slanted toward Wilson’s version of events, and they cite anonymous “county officials.”

Forensic evidence shows Michael Brown’s blood on the gun, on the uniform and inside the car of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, law enforcement officials said, information they believe potentially corroborates the officer’s story that the unarmed 18-year-old tried to take his gun.

The evidence will make it harder for the Justice Department to prosecute Wilson on federal charges that he violated Brown’s civil rights, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

Such evidence would also make it difficult for a county grand jury to indict Wilson on state charges, such as murder or manslaughter, said county sources who also are prohibited from talking on the record about the pending case.

Multiple media sources are now parroting anonymous sources who claim the “evidence” supports Wilson’s story. I just don’t see it. Of course Brown’s blood would be inside Wilson’s car, since Wilson reportedly shot Brown in the arm at close range. Blood would have spattered all over. It makes sense that it would be on the gun, Wilson’s uniform, and elsewhere in the car. As for the alleged scratches, cuts, and swelling on Wilson’s face (where are the photos?), that could have happened because, as the closest  witness–Dorian Johnson–said, Wilson pulled Brown into the car by the neck and tried to choke him. Brown could have been defending himself. Furthermore, none of this justifies Wilson chasing Brown and shooting him as Brown was trying to surrender with his hands in the air, which is what a number of witnesses reported.

Al Sharpton isn’t buying it. From Colin Campbell at Business Insider:

Speaking at his weekly National Action Network rally in Harlem, Sharpton panned Wilson’s claim to be in fear of his life as the “same excuse” as others who fatally shot African-American teens.

“We were involved in Trayvon Martin. We were supportive of Jordan Davis,” Sharpton said, ticking off the recent controversies. “The strange thing is that all of them used the same excuse … The only gun there was Darren Wilson’s! Strange parallels with all of these cases.”

“First of all, if you stopped him — Michael Brown and his friend — walking down the street, what led to the scuffle? … Secondly, how does he and you get in your car? You trying to do what by yourself?” Sharpton asked. “Now, if I go with you with your story all the way to that — that Michael Brown was shot, gets up off you in the car — why are you trying to tell me that a man … ran back at you when he knew you had the gun and you already shot him?”

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The story makes no sense, but I’m guessing the Missouri Grand Jury will believe it. And then it’s going to get ugly. From The Daily Beast:

The Rev. Carlon Lee, pastor of Flood Christian Church in Ferguson, Mo., was sending out links to a New York Times story Friday night to friends, family and community members who have spent the last two months absorbed in the events surrounding the death of teenager Michael Brown. The story cited forensic evidence offered by federal officials that showed Brown’s blood on officer Darren Wilson’s uniform and gun, which was found to have been fired inside Wilson’s patrol car. Lee’s link came with a personal thought:

“If there has ever been a time to pray, this is it,” he told recipients of texts and emails.

There was really nothing new about the Times’ story—Wilson has maintained since day one that Brown was reaching for the officer’s gun, which led to a struggle ultimately ending in the teenager’s death. Now, though, evidence seen only by a St. Louis County grand jury has been made available for the world, including the residents of Ferguson.

“I believe that when people have received (the Times) article and see what’s going on it will infuriate people and set us back,” Lee said. “No matter what happened in (Wilson’s) car, Michael Brown’s hands were up. No matter if he beat the crap out of Officer Wilson, his hands were up—a universal sign of surrendering.”

Protesters in Ferguson are going to believe Wilson’s story, says St. Louis photojournalist Bradley Rayford.

“The protesters didn’t believe Officer Wilson’s story in the first place, so they’re not going to believe this story,” Rayford said of the Times’ reporting….

It’s impossible to tell whether the story being sent out by Lee on Friday night would result in increased action on the streets of Ferguson, but one thing, as it has all along, remains clear: If Wilson isn’t indicted chaos will once again reign.

“If there’s a non-indictment I think you’ll see an immediate uproar,” Lee said. “I don’t think people have seen the amount of unrest and anger that will come if there’s a non-indictment.”

 Check out these photos of black protesters and white St. Louis Rams fans fighting over an American flag. How symbolic is that? Here’s one of the photos:

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At the end of the confrontation, white police officers are shown targeting a black woman.

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Serial Killers

On Saturday, a body that is most likely that of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham was found in Albemarle County a few miles from where suspect Jesse Matthew grew up. WTVR.com reports:

Just four short miles from the abandoned Albemarle County property, now lined with police tape and full of detectives investigating the discovery of human remains, sits the house Jesse Matthew Jr. and his mother once called home.

“She wanted to try to keep Jesse out of the city away from gang activity — if there was any in the city. She was just trying to make it safe for her son,” said neighbor Cliff Hunt.

Hunt said Matthew’s mother wanted the best for her son, who is now the prime suspect in the disappearance of Hannah Graham, who was last seen Sept. 13 on Charlottesville’s downtown pedestrian mall.

Hannah Graham’s parents wanted the best for their daughter too, and so did Morgan Harrington’s parents. How many more women did Jesse Matthew rape and kill? The safest place for him to have been was prison after he was accused of raping college classmates at two Virginia colleges in 2002 and 2003. 

More from NBC 12: Albemarle neighbors recall Jesse Matthew and his family.

Jesse Matthew and his family lived at a home on Ponderosa Trail, just a few years ago, according to the neighbors and people who live here now. And this spot is just four miles away from where the remains were found by investigators scouring for any trace of evidence left at the scene….

This area is known to suspect Jesse Matthew, who is charged with Graham’s abduction with intent to defile.

Matthew’s former neighbor Bernard Blue said Matthew, his sister and mother lived in this home just miles from where search crews made the gruesome discovery Saturday. Blue says he’s unsettled that the man he knew is now the main suspect in a high-profile case. “Never dreamed he’d do something like that if he is guilty,” he said. “Never dreamed about it, because he was a fine boy when he was up here.”

Blue said Matthew’s mother also worked at UVA hospital, and that she’s stayed in touch. “She was a sweet lady. She came up to see me about four or five months ago,” he said. But Bernard says Matthew left a somewhat different impression. “He was a little strange. But, fine guy, all I know.”

“Strange,” but “a fine guy”?

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Also in this morning’s news, a serial killer has been arrested in Indiana. From the Chicago Tribune: 7 women found dead in Gary, Hammond over weekend.

Bodies of three more women were found in Gary Sunday evening after officials discovered bodies of four women earlier in the weekend at various locations in Gary and Hammond.

One of the recently found women was discovered around 7:50 p.m. Sunday in the 4300 block of Massachusetts Street in Gary, according to a press release from the Lake County coroner’s office. The cause of the woman’s death was strangulation, same as in the case of the first woman found dead Friday night.

Two additional bodies of women were recovered around 10 p.m. in the 400 block of East 43rd Avenue in Gary, according to another press release from the Lake County coroner’s office. The cause of both women’s deaths was unknown.

Deaths of all three women, who were not immediately identified, were ruled homicides, the releases said.

Police have detained a suspect whose name won’t be released until he is charged. The man confessed to the most recent murder and then led police to three more bodies. Fox News reports:

The women were found throughout Hammond and Gary, according to the Lake County coroner’s office. The Chicago Sun-Times cited police sources saying the man in custody is a 43-year-old resident of Gary. Hammond Chief John Doughty said police will have more information at a press conference Monday.

The flurry of grisly discoveries began when Hammond police responded to a call of an unresponsive person Friday evening at a Motel 6 and found the strangled body of a woman identified as Afrika Hardy, 19. As part of the investigation into her death, police executed a search warrant on a home in Gary, where they also took the person of interest into custody, Hammond Police Lt. Richard Hoyda told the Chicago Tribune in an email….

Police discovered the body of Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville, around 11:20 p.m. Saturday in an abandoned home in Gary. Her family had reported her missing on Oct. 8.

Jones’ sister, Yolanda Nowell, previously described her as “very street savvy” and said she had moved 10 years ago from Chicago to Indiana, where she operated a stand at a nearby flea market.

Police found the next body around 1 a.m. Sunday and a third body less than an hour later, according to the Tribune.

Late Sunday, the coroner’s office confirmed the discovery of three additional Jane Does, all of which were found in Gary.

All seven deaths have been ruled homicides, according to the coroner’s office. Most of the bodies were found in or around abandoned or fire-damaged homes in blighted neighborhoods, according to reports. The house near where Jones was found was described as being located in a thriving neighborhood, although it is unkempt, with overgrown grass and weeds.

As I have often said, it’s a bloodbath out there. Violence against women is a daily reality in this country.

jack-and-coffee

Nazi War Criminals Living on Social Security

From AP via Yahoo News: Expelled Nazis got millions in Social Security.

OSIJEK, Croatia (AP) — Former Auschwitz guard Jakob Denzinger lived the American dream.

 His plastics company in the Rust Belt town of Akron, Ohio, thrived. By the late 1980s, he had acquired the trappings of success: a Cadillac DeVille and a Lincoln Town Car, a lakefront home, investments in oil and real estate.

Then the Nazi hunters showed up.

In 1989, as the U.S. government prepared to strip him of his citizenship, Denzinger packed a pair of suitcases and fled to Germany. Denzinger later settled in this pleasant town on the Drava River, where he lives comfortably, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. He collects a Social Security payment of about $1,500 each month, nearly twice the take-home pay of an average Croatian worker.

Denzinger, 90, is among dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals and SS guards who collected millions of dollars in Social Security payments after being forced out of the United States, an Associated Press investigation found.

The payments flowed through a legal loophole that has given the U.S. Justice Department leverage to persuade Nazi suspects to leave. If they agreed to go, or simply fled before deportation, they could keep their Social Security, according to interviews and internal government records.

Like Denzinger, many lied about their Nazi pasts to get into the U.S. following World War II, and eventually became American citizens.

Read more details about the AP investigation in the lengthy article.

Read “brief profiles” of some of these Nazi social security recipients in this AP story via The Elkhart Truth

coffee huge1

What if Republicans Win Control of Congress?

Here’s Joan Walsh’s take on the silly argument that losing would be good for Democrats: America’s Looming Freak Show: How GOP Control Will Terrorize a Nation – With No Political Repercussion.

I’m an optimist who’s expert at finding silver linings – American progressives have to be — but the case rapidly picking up steam that another midterm loss will be good for Democrats is both silly and a little dangerous.

Bill Scher made the argument from the left as well as anyone could, while  this piece by the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib, coming from the center-right, was more predictable and vexing. (Paul Waldman took a shot at it back in August,  here.) The Washington Post’s Phillip Bump followed and endorsed Seib’s argument. But those takes rely at least in part on the notion that if Republicans gain the Senate, they’ll either have an incentive to help “govern” – or they’ll shame themselves in the eyes of the American public if they don’t. Unfortunately, neither premise is true.

In fact, I’m concerned that worsening political dysfunction perpetuates itself by convincing more Americans that politics is futile. The Obama coalition in particular – younger, less white, less well off than even prior coalitions of Democrats – has gotten so little that’s tangible from its history-making turnout in 2012 (and yes I’ve read that Krugman piece and I mostly agree.) The prospect of its coalescing to become a permanent force in American politics has been at least postponed, if not thwarted entirely, by the deliberate GOP sabotage of the political process.

For me, the backdrop to this depressing midterm election is not merely ISIS and Ebola, but continued unrest in Ferguson, Mo., where it seems unlikely Officer Darren Wilson will face consequences for shooting Michael Brown. From New York to Los Angeles, the issue of police violence just gets worse. There’s increasing activism on the issue, which is great to see – the crowds that turned out for “Ferguson October” over the weekend, and into Monday, were inspiring.

Read the whole sordid thing at the link. Have I told you lately how much I hate the term “progressive?” I’m a liberal and proud of it. The “progressives” who have been undermining Obama for years and are now rooting for a Republican victory make me sick to my stomach. Maybe that’s why I came down with this virus I have.

I should write something about Ebola, but this post is already far too long. I’ll put those links in the comment thread.

So . . . what stories have caught your attention today?


Sunday Reads: Hello is there anybody in there?

92ec4136a38bb759a3e7149d4ac263e7.jpgGood morning

Well, I am starting this post in a new way. I am writing it on my iPhone using the talk to text thingy. You know, that app where you talk and it writes what you say. So far… it has disappeared on me once, and has gone black a couple of times so if it does work I will be amazed.

I feel like I’ve gone down the rabbit hole, into techie hell. (Actually isn’t it Apple “Genius” hell?)

Let’s get on with this post, whose theme song should be Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb

With the Ebola virus making the rounds, and since I’ve been sick over the last two weeks…the words to this song hit home. (And now Boston Boomer is out for the count, hopefully she will be feeling better soon.  )

During the rest of the post, the lyrics to Comfortably Numb will be in dotted here and there…starting with the title of this thread.

 Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?

Honestly? I wonder if the Ebola hysteria has caused people to lose it completely. Take this latest bit of…you fucking kidding me…out of Maine:

0e4244cf01d3e0016892d7a3566ebadeMaine school board puts teacher on leave after she traveled to Dallas – The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

The teacher, who has not been named, attended a conference 10 miles from the hospital where Ebola patients have received care.

A teacher at Strong Elementary School was placed on a 21-day paid leave of absence after parents told the school board they were concerned that she might have been exposed to Ebola during a trip to Dallas for an educational conference.

The teacher, who was not named, attended a seminar held by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium that is still meeting in Dallas.

“At this time, we have no information to suggest that this staff member has been in contact with anyone who has been exposed to Ebola,” the district wrote in a statement published on its website. “However, the district and the staff member understand the parents’ concerns. Therefore, after several discussions with the staff member, out of an abundance of caution, this staff member has been placed on a paid leave of absence for up to 21 days.”

It takes two to 21 days for someone who has been infected with Ebola to show symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

The decision to place the teacher on leave was made by the MSAD 58 school board Thursday evening, after parents and community members expressed frustration that they were not notified that the teacher would be traveling to Dallas, where the nation’s first Ebola case was diagnosed.

Wow. What can you possibly say about that?

Things have gotten almost up to 11, and I know that as the days get closer to Election Day 2014, certain politicians will continue to use the fear as campaign fuel.

Come on, now,
I hear you’re feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again.

I have some quick links for you now. Updates on some stories:

Darren Wilson says he feared for his life, struggled over gun with Brown | theGrio

Sounds like Wilson is taking his cue from Zimmerman.

The police officer who fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old in a St. Louis suburb last summer has told investigators that he was pinned in his vehicle and in fear for his life as they struggled over his gun, The New York Times reported.

Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson has told authorities that Michael Brown reached for the gun during a scuffle, the Times reported in a story posted on its website Friday night. The officer’s account to authorities did not explain why he fired at Brown multiple times after emerging from his vehicle, according to the newspaper.

You can read the rest if you want.

By the way, did y’all ever see John Oliver’s take on the Ferguson mess?

Now when you watch it, make sure you keep a mental note on the pumpkin festival (it starts at min 7:12)…and the big ass tank that is used to protect it…because it may just have a connection to this next story:

077243eba9ee62f0063adb315cc19958College Pumpkin Festival Careens into Violence and Arrests

Keene State student Ellery Murray told The Boston Globe she was at a party that had drawn a large crowd when people started throwing things. She said police responded in riot gear and used tear gas to break up the crowd.

“People were just throwing everything they could find — rocks, skateboards, buckets, pumpkins,” she said. “People just got too drunk.”

The Southwestern New Hampshire Fire Mutual Aid organization said on Twitter that several people were injured from thrown bottles at a party involving hundreds of people.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan said state and local safety officials worked to defuse what she called “the situation.”

Hours after the commotion broke out, emergency officials said they were still working the scene and couldn’t provide any details.

I wonder if the local police put the military tank/truck thing to good use?

Another cop tale for ya, and yes it is in Georgia: Georgia teen forced to ground at gunpoint for seat-belt violation files $12.5 million lawsuit

The family of high school athlete who was pulled over and forced to the ground at gunpoint over a seat-belt violation has filed a $12.5 million lawsuit against the Waycross, Georgia police department contending the officer involved was only given a slap on the wrist for his actions, according to News4GA.

Saying “I could have been another Trayvon Martin case,” Montre’ Merritt explained to reporters how the traffic stop in front of his home where officer Officer Cory Gay held a gun to his head and ordered him onto the ground still haunts him.

“That night when it happened, I felt like I could have been another Trayvon Martin case,” Merritt said. “And just hearing how Mike Brown went about his case for doing the right thing. He still got shot. I just feel like I don’t want any of my friends or family, I don’t want that to happen to anybody.”

According to the suit, Merritt was pulled over by Gay on Jan. 18, in front of his home and instructed at gunpoint to get out of his car and on the ground where Gay handcuffed him. When Merritt’s mother came outside to see why her son was being arrested, the officer told her it was for a seat belt violation.

The Merritt family subsequently filed a complaint with the Waycross Police Department over Gay’s actions.

Following an investigation by police authorities, Gay was found guilty of using excessive force and was suspended for five days without pay. Gay was also ordered to take Judgmental Use of Force Training.

Unhappy with Gay’s punishment, the family filed the lawsuit against the police department.

Good luck with that.

Okay, if you have another 16 minutes…take a look at this segment from John Oliver’s show on Prisons.

Up next a story that reflects on another side of the prison system. I don’t know if you remember a horrible shooting and dual murder here in Georgia a few weeks ago, a young couple was kidnapped and held for ransom, only to be shot execution style. The woman, who was 7 months pregnant, was kept alive long enough to give birth to her daughter. They finally caught the people responsible, and as you can imagine…this is not the first murders the dudes have committed.

DA announces plan to seek death penalty in couple’s… | www.wsbtv.com

Friday, District Attorney Paul Howard announced a big decision to seek the death penalty for the two men accused of kidnapping and murdering a man and his pregnant fiance.

Channel 2 Action  News learned the suspects were accused of a combined seven killings.

Families present for the announcement told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh they were shocked to see how many lives were impacted by just two suspects.

“I’m going (to) hope that justice will do what’s necessary because obviously it failed us before; they got out,” said Beverly Fowler, godmother to victim Briana Brooks.

The families stood united with Atlanta investigators who helped put two murder suspects back behind bars.

Friday, a grand jury handed up a 30-count indictment of Andre Gay and Richard Wilson.

“We will continue to do the job we need to do to make sure they are never released again,” said Atlanta Detective

If you can, watch Briana Brooks mother as she describes what happened to her daughter, it is emotionally wrenching.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said both Gay and Wilson have served time for prior murders. Gay, who was sentenced to life, was just paroled in January, but victims’ families were never notified.

“I believe that the parole board should personally notify the family members,” said Howard.

Howard thinks that should happen within 60 days.

Howard said he was shocked to learn what the state means by “electronic monitoring” of parolees.

“That does not mean they will wear ankle bracelets and it doesn’t mean that — the monitoring doesn’t go on during the entire time that they are on parole,” Howard said.

“Overwhelming that so many families are affected by two individuals who really don’t care for life,” Strong said.

Kavanaugh contacted the state parole board to get their reaction to these criticisms. A spokesperson emailed the following statement:

“The Parole Board recently met with DA Paul Howard to discuss the Andre Gay case and Mr. Howard shared information with the Board.

“Prior to this case, the Parole Board has been working on determining how additional notifications may be made to victims and law enforcement regarding board decisions and how new notifications above those that are statutorily required, can possibly be implemented.

“The Parole Board’s supervision of offenders on parole in the community is consistently under review to ensure those on parole are in compliance with their supervision.

“The Parole Board is committed to public safety and will continue to make supervision of offenders its number one priority.”

See, how the hell did these guys get approved for release to begin with? I don’t know but this is a perfect example of the criminals that need to remain behind bars.

Relax.
I’ll need some information first.
Just the basic facts.
Can you show me where it hurts?

After this next video segment from Oliver…you will be hurting between your head something fierce!

Unbelievable, innit?

In endangered animal news: Death of white rhino in Kenya leaves only six animals alive in the world | Environment | The Observer

Sudan northern white rhino
Sudan, one of the six remaining northern white rhinos, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy near Nairobi. Photograph: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

An endangered northern white rhino has died in Kenya, a wildlife conservancy has said, meaning only six of the animals are left alive in the world.

Suni, a 34-year-old northern white, and the first of his species to be born in captivity, was found dead on Friday by rangers at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy near Nairobi. While there are thousands of southern white rhinos in the plains of sub-Saharan Africa, decades of rampant poaching has meant the northern white rhino is close to extinction.

Suni was one of the last two breeding males in the world as no northern white rhinos are believed to have survived in the wild. Though the conservancy said Suni was not poached, the cause of his death is currently unclear.

I hope his death was natural causes…read more about Suni’s life at the link.

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying.

We started the post off with the results of Ebola fear mongering is bringing folks here in the US, Digby had an interesting graphic on her blog yesterday:

Hullabaloo-Fear for all

It was interesting at least…

The rest of today’s post will have links dealing with fun stuff…yeah we are half way through, so you can either keep going…or come back later, but the next series of links deal with a huge inflatable butt plug that was installed in some plaza in Paris.

Art for controversy’s sake: If they’ll build a giant ‘sex toy’ in the middle of Paris, then surely anything’s possible

13-ParisTree-AFP

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a tree, apparently. The 80ft green structure called Tree has attracted at lot of attention since it appeared in Paris’s Place Vendôme. Created by Paul McCarthy, an American artist, as part of his exhibition Chocolate Factory, the installation is officially described as a Christmas tree. Social media wags, however, have suggested that it looks more like something rude (ask your mother). Vandals took it a step further yesterday when they cut the cables holding the structure upright, forcing security guards to deflate and remove it.

Surely Tree is exactly what a great work of public art should be – controversial. Just like the adjacent Vendôme Column was, back in its wild youth. That now venerable monument, constructed between 1806 and 1810 to commemorate Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz, was first attacked by a mob on horseback in 1816. That attempt to dislodge Napoleon’s statue from its perch failed, but the Vendôme Column has been dismantled and rebuilt on several occasions since. As for obscenity, is Tree really that much more blatant than the Vendôme Column and the many other giant phallic symbols that hide in plain sight in civic centres the world over?

Yeah, more at the link…but for now…it is a flaccid butt plug.

Giant Butt Plug in Center of Paris Deflated by Prudish Vandals

An 80-foot inflatable butt plug by American artist Paul McCarthy was cut down from its supports early Saturday morning by vandals, forcing authorities to deflate the installation that many prudes in the city of Paris saw as an eyesore.

According to The Guardian, the vandals waited until the attention of security guards was elsewhere and then cut the cables keeping the sculpture, titled “Tree,” in place. Police are investigating the incident; it had only been two days since the sculpture was inflated in Place Vendôme.

During the inflatable butt plug’s grand unveiling on Thursday, one man’s response was to slap McCarthy in the face three times, “yelling that he was not French and that his work had no business in the square, before running off,”Le Monde reported.

The FIAC (a French contemporary art fair), who was responsible for bringing “Tree” to Paris, said they will reinflate McCarthy’s work “as soon as possible.”

Now, a group of links on women, starting with a great quote and photo editorial from actress Danai Gurira for Byrdie | Tom & Lorenzo Fabulous & Opinionated

Danai-Gurira-Byrdie-Walking-Dead-Editorial-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO-3

“The Walking Dead” actress Danai Gurira is featured on Byrdie photographed by Justin Colt and styled by Zoe Costello.

On female struggles and feminism: “There’s a saying in Africa, if you give a woman empowerment, you empower a community, you empower men, you empower man. When women become empowered and live in their strength it’s beneficiary to others, and I think as young women today we sometimes forget that we are standing on the struggle of other women. Those women had to stand up to make a change, and they were not popular, and now we’re making them unpopular again.”

I especially love what the “Uncles” had to say about this editorial:

O to the MG, that shot in the Sacai is the very definition of FIERCE.  Actually, scratch that. While that shit is FIERCE, it doesn’t hold a candle to that soundbite about feminism. GIRL. That was awesome.

Sorry for the RANDOM all-caps words, but WE tend to lose all control WHEN we see a fabulously fierce LADY in stunning CLOTHES saying really SMART things.

Damn you got that right! Click the link to see the other gorgeous shots…and to read another bite about her Walking Dead character, Michonne.

When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I’ve got that feeling once again
I can’t explain you would not understand
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.

Here we go….UN Woman launches campaign in India for greater participation of men in promotion women’s rights | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

The UN Women launched a campaign in New Delhi on Saturday, aiming at ensuring greater participation of men in promoting women’s rights and gender equality.

“We need boys and men to work with us. ‘HeForShe’ is a global solidarity movement to end gender inequality by 2030. The goal is to engage men and boys as advocates and agents of change in the effort to achieve equality. When women are empowered, the whole of humanity benefits,” UN Women Representative, Rebecca Tavares, said.

The ‘HeForShe’ campaign in India was launched by Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. UN Women believes that it is critical to engage all stakeholders in support of women’s rights, including the active participation of men and boys.

This is good.

But all the talk over in Vatican City is sounding hollow on the women’s issues front: Our favorite Pope still needs to address one major issue | Grist

Pope Francis, a.k.a. the Ultimate Chill Dude Pope of All Time (UCDPAT), has been a publicity dream for the Catholic Church. Even on Grist, we’ve sung his praises for his love of public transit and calls to action regarding climate change. There’s just one little area, however, where ol’ UCDPAT’s climate action plan leaves a lot to be desired: contraception.

The draft document from the 2014 Synod on the Family (which comes to an end on Sunday) includes a significant reworking of the language used to address homosexuality, premarital cohabitation, and divorce. Let’s be clear: This is no small deal! That the Church would begin to make moves around welcoming gay, unmarried, and no-longer-married couples (for the record, that covers about 95 percent of the couples I know) into the Catholic community represents an enormous — and positive — step forward.

But guess what? When it comes to women, and the control that they can have over their own bodies, not much has changed.

6a8d22a0ac38f9e429c8a6bb80de3ef0The next link I have for you is a good one, from a couple of weeks ago: Men deserve everything women get: waiting periods, purity control and science-free sex education | Jessica Valenti | Comment is free | theguardian.com

Enjoy that one in full…it is so good.

This op/ed however…was published today: A woman’s option to freeze her eggs should never be a job perk – Comment – Voices – The Independent

Go and check that one out in full as well…it is good too.

Oh, and don’t forget to eat your Wheaties! A Former Secretary of State Is Now on a Box of Wheaties | Mediaite

But with all these links on women, there was some sad news a couple of weeks ago: Jerrie Mock, First Solo Female Pilot to Circumnavigate the Globe, Dies at 88 – NYTimes.com

Jerrie Mock, who as a relatively untested pilot accomplished in 1964 what Amelia Earhart could not — becoming the first woman to fly solo around the world — died on Tuesday at her home in Quincy, Fla., near Tallahassee. She was 88.

Photo

Jerrie Mock in the Spirit of Columbus, the single-engine Cessna 180 she piloted around the world in 1964. Credit Robert W. Klein/Associated Press

Her grandson Chris Flocken confirmed her death.

When she took off on March 19, 1964, from Columbus, Ohio, Ms. Mock was a 38-year-old homemaker and recreational pilot who had logged a meager 750 hours of flight time. She returned there on April 17 — 29 days, 11 hours and 59 minutes later — after a 23,000-mile journey over the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea and the Pacific, with stops in the Azores, Casablanca, Cairo, Karachi, Calcutta, Bangkok and Honolulu, among other places.

She was stalled by high winds in Bermuda and battled rough weather between Casablanca and Bone, Algeria. She navigated 1,300 miles over the Pacific from Guam to tiny Wake Island, three miles in diameter, without the benefit of ground signals. Between Bangkok and Manila, she flew over embattled Vietnam.

“Somewhere not far away a war was being fought,” she wrote later, “but from the sky above, all looked peaceful.”

The thing she said when asked about why she made the trip is a perfect answer…

Ms. Mock and her husband, Russell, were half-owners of the plane, an 11-year-old single-engine Cessna 180 named the Spirit of Columbus (evoking the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane Charles Lindbergh flew in becoming the first to cross the Atlantic solo 37 years earlier).

The Mocks’ plane had been modified for the journey. Three of its four seats had been removed and fuel tanks were installed in their place. And the radio and navigational equipment had been augmented, although as she recounted in her 1970 book, “Three-Eight Charlie” (a reference to the plane’s serial number, which ended in 38C), she soon discovered that a crucial radio wire had been disconnected, leaving her cut off from the ground during the first leg of the trip, to Bermuda.

That summer, Flying magazine asked Ms. Mock why she had undertaken such a treacherous journey alone.

“It was about time a woman did it,” she said.

And that is all we have on links that focus primarily on women.

O.K.
Just a little pinprick.
There’ll be no more aaaaaaaaah!
But you may feel a little sick.
Can you stand up?
I do believe it’s working, good.
That’ll keep you going through the show
Come on it’s time to go.

There is a story over at the Times which hits home for me: Unable to Meet the Deductible or the Doctor – NYTimes.com

Patricia Wanderlich got insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year, and with good reason: She suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2011, spending weeks in a hospital intensive care unit, and has a second, smaller aneurysm that needs monitoring.

But her new plan has a $6,000 annual deductible, meaning that Ms. Wanderlich, who works part time at a landscaping company outside Chicago, has to pay for most of her medical services up to that amount. She is skipping this year’s brain scan and hoping for the best.

“To spend thousands of dollars just making sure it hasn’t grown?” said Ms. Wanderlich, 61. “I don’t have that money.”

About 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in private coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than 80 percent qualified for federal subsidies to help with the cost of their monthly premiums. But many are still on the hook for deductibles that can top $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families — the trade-off, insurers say, for keeping premiums for the marketplace plans relatively low. The result is that some people — no firm data exists on how many — say they hesitate to use their new insurance because of the high out-of-pocket costs.

Once my family gets our insurance sorted out, I will have a long post about it, because it really is a frightening mess.

The rest of today’s links are in dump format:

11551cac58847b2c364753828245ef0dWhy some newspapers are abandoning endorsements Editors see a risk to credibility, and search for different ways to foster debate -: Columbia Journalism Review

Perhaps it is because of assholes like this?

Rick Perry’s demented world order: Why this man can get nowhere near the White House – Salon.com

Hey…in other turd news: Hurricane Gonzalo Sucked the Water Out of People’s Toilets in Bermuda

Okay, that was a stretch. But what about some other science links?

See one of the year’s best meteor showers, thanks to Halley’s comet

dfb80cb75000b46cbc240ec01601fc3bHow Whooshes and Beeps Can Make Babies Better Listeners – The Atlantic

U.S. Dust Bowl Conditions Not Rivaled in 1,000 Years – Scientific American

Yeah up next….Book Reviews:

Their Struggles: Bristol Palin & Malala Yousafzai’s Memoirs, Compared -Now that is one hell of a compare and contrast theme.

And then there is the controversy about the new Scrabble dictionary: New Scrabble Dictionary Disrepects The Game | FiveThirtyEight

Hmmm….how about some books about film directors?

New Book Explores Masculinity in Scorsese Films | New Republic

Silent Movie Bookshelf: Charlie Chaplin – A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd | Movies Silently

This next link is not a book review, but it is an article, originally published on December 6, 1954… about one of my favorite authors: In Praise of Oscar Wilde, on His Birthday | New Republic

f51e0b8e3f6366d6b0e4bdeb456ebf57Back to Hollywood:

Hollywood’s men in black: A history of cinema’s favourite colour from Brando to The Matrix – Features – Fashion – The Independent

Review: Princess Kaguya (Just Watch It Already!) | The Mary Sue

Early 20th C. Sphinx Recovered in California – Archaeology Magazine

Here is a hint…”I must have killed more people than Cecil B DeMile.” Jim- Blazing Saddles

This leads us to our history section of the thread:

a21b8145676475d1c0943be69d311c7cA Century Later, Relics Emerge From a War Frozen in Time-Retreating ice in the Alps sheds new light on high-altitude battle in World War I.

Are Government Acts still translated into Norman French? – UK Politics – UK – The Independent

The Relationship of Light and Colour in Medieval Thought and Imagination-Medeivalist.net

A quick segue to court themed articles and links:

Horrible Legislation In American History  : Lawyers, Guns & Money

Court vacates restraining order that barred journalist from contacting Georgia county commission candidate – The Washington Post

Georgia Reporter Served With Stay-Away Order After Writing Critical Profile Of Candidate

09524b15857b08aad3295cb10a62c667Now for something funny:

SNL’s Impoverished Africans Ask Bill Hader for More Than 39 Cents a Day, or Else… | Mediaite

You need to go to that link to watch the video clip…but don’t watch it while your drinking that 39 cent coffee…or you may choke on your java beverage.

We are getting near the end of our post…so the next few links deal with a subject that y’all know is quite an obsession for me:

Woman who slept with dwarf stripper at her bachelorette party gives birth to dwarf  – NY Daily News

This is the headline that Digby thought was hilarious: Dwarf stripper impregnates bride-to-be at her bachelorette party – Los Angeles Strange News | Examiner.com

While reading that NY Daily News piece…this other midget story got my attention: Dwarf on dinner date with fiancée given coloring book, crayons by waitress – NY Daily News

That is horrible. How could the woman even confuse the dude for a kid? Go look at the picture.

And yes, I know I used the word “midget” …here is a look at that very thing: This Little Person Asked Passersby How They Feel About The Term, ‘Midget’

The term “midget” comes from midge — a small insect that resembles a mosquito.

It’s not a term of endearment, of course, but as Aaron Beelner pointed out in the video above, not too many people realize it’s a “very dehumanizing” way to refer to someone.

In a video posted to YouTube on Tuesday, Beelner walked the streets of New York City asking strangers about their thoughts on the term. He also pointed out that October is Dwarfism Awareness Month — a fact no passerby in the video knew.

Beelner stars in “The Little Tin Man,” a film following the life of a struggling dwarf actor that Beelner said is relevant to any minority group fighting for equality.

There are many variations of dwarfism, a condition where an adult’s height does not surpass 4 feet 10 inches, according to the Mayo Clinic. But the most common type among short-limbed dwarfs, achondroplasia, occurs in 1 in 15,000 to 40,000 newborns, as the National Human Genome Research Institute noted.

I still have a hard time giving up that word midget…sorry. I don’t mean disrespect. If anything my admiration is something beyond anything I can explain or control. It goes way back…

Me and my cousin David at a family wedding...I'm around 4 years old, and in the back of the photo...a midget in a tux with a flower in the lapel.

My cousin David and I at a family wedding…I’m around 4 years old, and look in the back of the photo…a midget in a tux complete with a flower in the lapel.

And that leads me to the final link. It has a combination of three things I adore, and I hope you love it too. The Men Of Flamenco: Meet The Dancers Who Turn Gender-Based Traditions Upside Down  It is a photo gallery that includes Flamenco dancers…naked gorgeous men (The one photo on the cover of the book is tasty.)…and….

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They are magnificent!

That post should have taken you all day! LOL

 There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying.
When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.