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….

slide_375322_4387192_free

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.

BostonCoffee_000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.


Friday Nite Lite: Ha, good one!

Yeah there are a few real good ones tonight…

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

…like the one above.  Too funny.

On with the rest of them…

Clay Bennett: Public Health – Clay Bennett – Truthdig

Please Politicize Ebola by Tina Dupuy

“Politicize” is a jab meaning the other side is trying to capitalize on a news topic. “The Republicans have tried to politicize the border crisis,” says Nancy Pelosi. Reince Priebus says Democrats are trying to politicize Benghazi. Jay Carney says Republicans are trying to politicize Benghazi. Steny Hoyer says Republicans are trying to politicize the VA scandal. Rush Limbaugh says Democrats politicize EVERYTHING.

You get the picture. People who work in politics use politicization as a pejorative. Like a chef sneering at all the cooking going on in the (gasp) kitchen!

Also saying your opponent is politicizing something is what to say when you hope to politicize something. It’s a “you spot it, you got it” attack.

Put down your hollow barbs, people. We live in a nation where small town police departments immediately use tanks and sound cannons for demonstrations and hospitals hesitate before using hazmat suits for Ebola. We have a problem.

So yes, let’s politicize Ebola. With abandon. With the same kind of passion we normally reserve for football or Pumpkin Spice Oreos.

155000 600 Please Politicize Ebola cartoons

Mike Luckovich: Campaign Commercials Meet Ebola – Mike Luckovich – Truthdig

EBOLA PANIC – Political Cartoon by Deb Milbrath, Cartoon Movement – 10/17/2014

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - EBOLA PANIC

EWINGNUT by Political Cartoonist Bill Day

155053 600 EWINGNUT cartoons

UpsDowns by Political Cartoonist Joe Heller

155049 600 UpsDowns cartoons

Relocatin’ to Oklahoma? – Political Cartoon by Bruce Plante, Tulsa World – 10/17/2014

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Relocatin' to Oklahoma?

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

Gay-Loving Socialist – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 10/17/2014

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Gay-Loving Socialist

Texas ID Law – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 10/16/2014

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Texas ID Law

AAEC – Political Cartoon by John Cole, Scranton Times/Tribune – 10/17/2014

Cartoon by John Cole -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by MStreeter, Savannah Morning News – 10/17/2014

Cartoon by MStreeter -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by John R. Rose, Byrd Newspapers of Virginia – 10/15/2014

Cartoon by John R. Rose -

DANGEROUS STUFF by Political Cartoonist Randy Bish

155032 600 DANGEROUS STUFF cartoons

a breath of fresh air by Political Cartoonist Joep Bertrams

154905 600 a breath of fresh air cartoons

I don’t think much of the hot air coming out of Vatican City…but that cartoon made me laugh…

Mike Luckovich: That’s It! – Mike Luckovich – Truthdig

Distancing Dems by Political Cartoonist Steve Sack

154934 600 Distancing Dems cartoons

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Tim Eagan, The Press Democrat – 10/17/2014

Cartoon by Tim Eagan -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader – 10/17/2014

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

This is an open thread.


Friday Reads

morning-coffee

Good Morning!!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope they’re right!

Now for the latest Ebola news . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amber Vinson

Amber Vinson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

randpaul1

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

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

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

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

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

In other news . . .

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

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

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

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

Bill Clinton stumps for Coakley

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now we just need Hillary to show up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

friday-121


Thursday Reads: “But where are the clowns? Quick, send in the clowns. Don’t bother, they’re here.”

Good Morning!

I’m still a little out of it but I’m nowhere out of it compared to what’s going on in this midterm election season.  I’m not about to gamble where it’s going to end up, but I will tell you that it’s just about as strange as any election season I’ve ever seen.  8170291676_8431de6a3c_z

First up, Republicans that refuse to debate for some reason or another.  Perhaps it’s because they open their mouths and turn people off?  However, Florida’s governor now has the Temper Tantrum Toddler award for this one.

The Florida gubernatorial debate got off to a rocky start Wednesday night when Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) refused to come out because his Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist, asked for and received a fan under his podium.

The debate moderators at CBS Miami seemed shocked, wondering aloud what to do for several minutes until Scott finally consented to join Crist on stage. Scott apparently told the hosts that the debate rules banned fans from the stage.

“We have been told Governor Scott will not be participating in this debate,” CBS moderator Elliott Rodriguez said. “Now, let me explain what this is all about. Governor Crist has asked to have a fan, a small fan, placed underneath his podium. The rules of the debate that I was shown by the Scott campaign said that there should be no fan. Somehow there is a fan there and for that reason, ladies and gentlemen, Governor Scott will not join us for the debate.”

The announcement was met with jeers and boos from the crowd.

“That’s the ultimate pleading of the Fifth I’ve ever heard,” Crist said from the stage.

knowRepugClownsRick Scott has all kinds of issues.  First, let’s start out with the legal and political issues that have haunted his term and campaign.

Look to a Ponzi state running eternally on the next out-of-town sucker, administered by a gerrymandered GOP hammerlock and overseen by a man who the president of Public Policy Polling once said could be trounced by “a ham sandwich.” That man is Florida Governor Rick Scott, who bought one election and feels like having another, who — depending on your point of view — makes the Sunshine State either more of a national punchline than it already is, or a paradise where every political malignancy can sizzle and bloat before coming home to fuck up wherever it is you live. Meanwhile, the man sent as an alternative to the theory that government’s job is to die quietly is Charlie Crist, a Republican conveniently converted to Democrat, for whom even long-time friends say pursuing policy takes a distant second place to holding office as an end in itself.

That Rick Scott is a Republican is no surprise. He has a classic up-from-his-bootstraps story that doesn’t involve a coal-mining immigrant granddad but actually features himself. And like so many conservative biographies, it’s ideologically impure — estranged from an abusive father, raised at points in public housing, getting a government job, starting a business in part via GI benefits, eventually becoming CEO of Columbia/HCA, the nation’s largest private healthcare company, which grew by undercutting non-profit hospital fatcats with cutthroat private bottom-line policies.

Why he ever wanted to become a Republican candidate remains bit of a mystery, because while CEO of Columbia/HCA, the company was assessed the largest penalty for Medicare and Medicaid fraud in history. In yet another instance of the GOP Cult of the Leader at work, Scott presented the ideal candidate because of the success of his business, which was owed to his vision; the fact that it ultimately paid nearly $1.7 billion in penalties for a criminal enterprise was someone else’s fuckup. Scott himself admitted to exercising his Fifth Amendment privileges in a civil deposition 75 times when it might relate to the federal investigation of Columbia/HCA — not to use his right to avoid self-incrimination but because he didn’t want to indulge a “fishing expedition.” That’s not a legitimate application of the Fifth Amendment. Your chief executive at work: a man for whom the rules of the justice system are just, like, thishassle.

His 2010 candidacy felt spectacularly surreal because, to paraphrase something I wrote then, he was a proud, self-celebratory embodiment of unpunished white collar crime. It was like seeing the executives of Merrill, AIG, Lehman Brothers and Countrywide simultaneously going through Senate confirmations to the Federal Reserve while drawing fingers across their necks at the committee chairperson and mouthing the words, “YOU’RE NEXT.” Scott could run on his record only in the most oblique and vacuous manner, since floating away via golden parachute after bumping your revenues by defrauding the federal government is not a viable state economic model.

Instead, Scott snorted the Tea Party miasma and duly acted as if his gubernatorial opponent were Barack Obama and health insurance. If elected, Scott would move the State Capitol from Washington, D.C. back to Tallahassee. To sell this vision, he insulated himself from campaign accountability in almost every respect. He sent his own mother to a news conference as a substitute, refused to subject himself to interviews from newspaper editorial boards and ducked debates. Reporters were ignored with an almost princely disdain and fed bland focus-group-tested answers to unrelated questions. He instead largely campaigned on television, pouring over $73 million of his own money into saturating the state with ads whose studio magic made him look like an approximation of a human being. It didn’t work. Florida residents and critics nationwide simply call him Voldemort.

Once in office, the limitations of running on his record and as not-Obama immediately showed. Despite going on to set the record for one-term executions since 1970, he admitted he hadn’t considered the responsibility of signing death warrants before he decided to run for office. In fact, the Tallahassee rumor mill suggested he wasn’t even aware that he physically had to sign each order. His office maintained the same level of lockout contempt for the press corps and expressed dismay and outrage at the “partisan” criticism of the office. Such micromanaged disdain for access and devotion to imaging doubtless increased focus on the revelation that Scott made a show on the trail of adopting a rescue dog, then ditched it once it had served its purpose. The secretive nature of the Scott administration continues to this day, with revelations that Scott and aides used private emails and private phones to circumvent the state’s Sunshine Laws.

Meanwhile, despite claiming on the stump that he would create 700,000 new jobs in seven years, on top of the projected job growth of 1,000,000, for a rate of roughly 242,857 jobs per year, Scott almost immediately ratcheted his pledge down by 1,000,000, claiming he merely needed to create 700,000 jobs total. This is akin to pledging 2 billion years ago to build a grand hotel and canyon on the site of the Colorado River, then showing up 2 billion years later to take credit for the Grand Canyon and hope everyone forgot about the hotel. And, as the Tampa Bay Times reports, he still comes up short according to his own office, reporting growth of 620,300 jobs in four years, far short of the 971,428 he should be on track for. Worse, even his own office’s numbers are fudged, because they don’t count public sector job losses — despite the fact that they are jobs — because, well, fuck ‘em. Factor in jobs lost to Scott’s budget slashing and elimination of regulatory oversight — 15,000 in just the first eight months alone — and he’s only at 594,900.

Rick Scott is a scary and crooked clown.  He’s a tea party sweetheart and a complete nightmare.  We’re waiting for him to announce that he is not a witch.esq-republican-clowns-120811-xlg

Even before he was elected in 2010, Scott spent $5 million of his own money—earned leading a health care companythat derives much of its revenue from government payments—to fight Obamacare. Florida was the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case challenging Obamacare, and even after the court upheld the law, Scott refused to take steps to implement it. His fellow tea partiers are urging lawmakers to do the same: At a hearing in December, activist John Knapp told state legislators, “The American Constitution which you just swore an oath to uphold and defend has been contorted, hijacked, and reduced.”

To get Medicaid in Florida, you have to make less than $3,200 a year—and the state seems set to reject Obamacare subsidies that would fix that.

Obamacare is a particular target of tea party wrath in Florida, but it’s hardly the only one in a state where the movement’s ideology has permeated every layer of government. In just one year, Scott and his conservative allies slashed state spending by $4 billioneven as they cut corporate taxes. They’ve rejectedbillions in federal funds in one of the states hardest hitby the recession. They’ve axed everything from health care and public transportation initiatives to mosquito control and water supply programs. “Florida is where the rhetoric becomes the reality. It’s kind of the tea party on steroids,” says state Rep. Mark Pafford, a Democrat. “We’ve lost all navigation in terms of finding that middle ground.”

Similar shifts have occurred in other states where the tea party has amassed political power, including Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin. But no state has gone as far as Florida, where small-government advocates have seized the economic crisis and fiscal downturn to reshape the state, often sacrificing benefits for residents to make a broader political point.

imagesWell, that’s just one race.  How bizarre can races in the other 49 states be?  You probably don’t want me to ask that , do you?  Take South Carolina’s Nikki Haley.  PLEASE.  If the nation’s CEOs aren’t worried about the Confederate flag, why should any one else bother with it?

Haley retorted by claiming that the Confederate flag has not kept companies from coming to the state.

“What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state. I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag,” she said.

She also said that she herself has helped combat the state’s image problem.

“But we really kind of fixed all that when you elected the first Indian-American female governor,” Haley said. “When we appointed the first African-American U.S. senator, that sent a huge message.”

Libertarian candidate Steve French said that while he doesn’t mind if individuals display the Confederate flag, he doesn’t think businesses should be able to.

“So, if you want to paint your house in the Confederate flag, I am completely fine with that,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, it’s evidently fashionable to buy the governor’s seat now and forget everything else.

It costs real money to blanket the state with wall-to-wall commercials, a fact borne out by the quarterly filings of the candidates running for governor.

Republican Bruce Rauner spent $20.3 million in the months from July through September, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. During the same period, he took in $20.5 million in contributions, including a $1.5 million check he wrote to himself last week.

However Rauner said the rest of his take was fueled by 11,000 individual donors.

“Our campaign is gaining supporters every day and we’ve picked up even more momentum since Pat Quinn admitted that he wants another massive tax hike in exactly three weeks,” Rauner said.

Rauner still had nearly $3.7 million left in his kitty, giving him plenty of ammo to continue waging his televised battle with Gov. Pat Quinn.

Quinn had yet to post his totals for the quarter, but at the end of the previous quarter, he was flush with nearly three times as much ready cash as Rauner.

Actually, it’s no big deal for a guy that makes about $60 million a year.  What’s more American these days than buying out a Democracy?gallery_298_17_57445

Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner made $60.15 million last year — up from $53 million the year before, according to cover sheets of his tax returns his campaign released Friday.

All told, Rauner and wife Diana reported paying $17.25 million in federal and state taxes for 2013. That’s only slightly more than the $17.1 million of his own fortune that Rauner has put into his campaign against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. That total includes a $1.5 million contribution the Republican challenger reported making to his campaign fund Friday.

In keeping with past practices, Rauner’s campaign released only copies of the 1040 federal and state forms but did not provide copies of other forms, attachments and schedules that would provide more information about the sources of Rauner’s income, business losses and tax deductions. Rauner released his tax information late Friday afternoon on a holiday weekend, a time when the public tends to be less focused on the news.

State law does not require candidates to release their income tax filings, but it has become commonplace for office seekers to do so. Quinn and many other candidates also provide copies of their entire filings, including attachments and schedules.

Rauner had filed for an extension for the April 15 filing of his federal and state income taxes. That made them due next week, less than a month before the Nov. 4 election.

Prior to launching his campaign in March 2013, Rauner left his position as a name partner at private equity firm GTCR. The candidate’s economic disclosure with the state showed he kept a partnership interest in a lengthy list of the firm’s investment funds.

Rauner, Quinn meet for first televised debate
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports on the first major debate of the Illinois gubernatorial election.
The federal tax information Rauner released Friday showed the bulk of his income — more than $41 million — took the form of capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate than regular income. Another $14 million came from interest and dividends.

Rauner’s tax return cover sheet showed more than $10.1 million in federal deductions, but the materials the campaign released did not specify what they were. Instead, the campaign issued a statement saying the Rauners and a separate family foundation made charitable contributions of more than $5 million.

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I’m not sure Louisiana is going to stand up to any more of Jindal’s presidential aspiration set loose on us frankly. Meanwhile,  Rick Perry has taken off to Europe while his states completely dysfunctional Public Health System appears to be shipping Ebola around the country. I sincerely wouldn’t recommend electing any of these clowns to your statehouse.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Open Thread

NYC-Morning-coffee-shop

Hello, Sky Dancers!

This will be a quick post. All three of us bloggers are under the weather. JJ has bronchitis, I was up all night with a stomach virus, and Dakinikat is understandably overwhelmed with family issues.

So here we go . . . .

The sh** has really hit the fan down in Dallas. Last night, a group named National Nurses United held a press call in which they revealed that, for the nurses who cared for Ebola patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, “there were no protocols”  for dealing with the highly infectious disease. From CNN:

“The protocols that should have been in place in Dallas were not in place, and that those protocols are not in place anywhere in the United States as far as we can tell,” National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said. “We’re deeply alarmed.”

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said the claims, if true, are “startling.” Some of them, he said, could be “important when it comes to possible other infections.”

Some of the complaints made by anonymous nurses to National Nurses United:

On the day that Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted to the hospital with possible Ebola symptoms, he was “left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area where other patients were present,” union co-president Deborah Burger said.

Up to seven other patients were present in that area, the nurses said, according to the union.

A nursing supervisor faced resistance from hospital authorities when the supervisor demanded that Duncan be moved to an isolation unit, the nurses said, according to the union.

Nurses were given protective gear that didn’t cover their necks, and when they complained they were told to wrap medical tape around their necks.

“There was no one to pick up hazardous waste as it piled to the ceiling,” Burger said. “They did not have access to proper supplies.”

“There was no mandate for nurses to attend training,” Burger said, though they did receive an e-mail about a hospital seminar on Ebola…

According to DeMoro, the nurses were upset after authorities appeared to blame nurse Nina Pham, who has contracted Ebola, for not following protocols.

“This nurse was being blamed for not following protocols that did not exist. … The nurses in that hospital were very angry, and they decided to contact us,” DeMoro said.

And they’re worried conditions at the hospital “may lead to infection of other nurses and patients,” Burger said.

Heine-Brothers-painting-small

And today this headline tops the news: Second Health Care Worker Tests Positive for Ebola. CNN reports:

A second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan has tested positive for Ebola, health officials said Wednesday – casting further doubt on the hospital’s ability to handle Ebola and protect employees.

The worker reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated, health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said.

The preliminary Ebola test was done late Tuesday at the state public health laboratory in Austin, and the results came back around midnight. A second test will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

It gets worse. CNN again: 2nd U.S. health worker with Ebola flew the day before symptoms.

The second Dallas health care worker with Ebola was on a flight from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday — the day before she reported symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. Because of the proximity in time between the Monday evening flight and the first report of her illness, the CDC wants to interview all 132 passengers on her flight — Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth, which landed at 8:16 p.m. CT Monday, the CDC said.

The worker, a woman who lives alone, was quickly moved into isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, authorities said Wednesday.

The news cast further doubt on the hospital’s ability to handle Ebola and protect employees. It’s the same hospital that initially sent Thomas Eric Duncan home, even though he had a fever and had traveled from West Africa. By the time he returned to the hospital, his symptoms had worsened. He died while being treated by medical staff, including the two women who have now contracted the disease.

Get this: hospital administrators are still claiming they have everything under control.

“I don’t think we have a systematic institutional problem,” Dr. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer of Texas Health Resources, told reporters Wednesday, facing questions about the hospital’s actions.

Medical staff “may have done some things differently with the benefit of what we know today,” he said, adding, “no one wants to get this right more than our hospital.”

Is that so? Well, you know the old saying, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” According to Vargas, 75 health care workers are still being monitored for symptoms.

coffee

The most recent Ebola case has just now been identified as 26-year-old Amber Vinson, according to USA Today.

Vinson, who was described as living alone without pets in a Dallas apartment, was identified by Martha Schuler, the mother of Vinson’s former stepfather, WFAA-TV reports.

Vinson was among the workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas who helped care for Ebola patient Thomas Duncan, who died of the virus in October.

At an early morning news conference, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he could not rule out more cases among 75 other hospital staffers who cared for Duncan and were being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are preparing contingencies for more and that is a real possibility,” Jenkins said.

In other news,

It seems there were some weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after all, and the Pentagon covered it up. The New York Times broke the story last night: The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons.

The soldiers at the blast crater sensed something was wrong.

It was August 2008 near Taji, Iraq. They had just exploded a stack of old Iraqi artillery shells buried beside a murky lake. The blast, part of an effort to destroy munitions that could be used in makeshift bombs, uncovered more shells.

Two technicians assigned to dispose of munitions stepped into the hole. Lake water seeped in. One of them, Specialist Andrew T. Goldman, noticed a pungent odor, something, he said, he had never smelled before.

He lifted a shell. Oily paste oozed from a crack. “That doesn’t look like pond water,” said his team leader, Staff Sgt. Eric J. Duling.

The specialist swabbed the shell with chemical detection paper. It turned red — indicating sulfur mustard, the chemical warfare agent designed to burn a victim’s airway, skin and eyes.

All three men recall an awkward pause. Then Sergeant Duling gave an order: “Get the hell out.” ….

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Read the whole depressing thing at the link.

grandads-morning-coffee-james-richardson

Here’s the Washington Post’s take on the Times’ story: Pentagon ‘suppressed’ finds of chemical weapons in Iraq and related U.S. casualties.

These were not the “weapons of mass destruction” the George W. Bush administration used to justify invading Iraq in 2003. Rather, the Times said, the troops were injured when they stumbled across old, often corroded shells and warheads procured for use in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.

The weapons were not the military threat to the United States described by the Bush administration. But the deadly sarin and mustard gas agents troops found were potent enough to cause injury, the paper reported. Unaware of the munitions’ content — which sometimes spilled on to their clothes and skin — as many as 17 soldiers were exposed, and some received haphazard, inadequate medical care.

The Times story suggests the Pentagon suppressed information about the chemical weapons because of the injuries, because it would have highlighted the massive intelligence failure surrounding the war and because the weapons were “built in close collaboration with the West.”

“The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm’s way and from military doctors,” wrote C.J. Chivers. “The government’s secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war’s most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds.”

A few more stories that might be of interest, links only:

Morning-Call-Coffee-Cup-Sign

Christian Science Monitor, Michelle Obama viral turnip video: Will it sell healthy food?

New York Daily News, Anita Sarkeesian cancels Utah State lecture amid threats of ‘Montreal Massacre-’styled attacks.

Deadspin, The Future Of The Culture Wars Is Here, And It’s Gamergate.

MSNBC, Supreme Court saves Texas abortion access, for now.

Nate Silver, The Polls Might Be Skewed Against Democrats — Or Republicans.

11Alive.com, Exclusive Poll: Nunn leads Senate race by 3%.

Capital OTC, Remains of Iron Age chariot discovered by Leicester students.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and enjoy your Wednesday.


Tuesday Reads

Arlington

Good Morning!!

The photo at the top of the page was taken on Mystic Street approaching Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington Center, Arlington, Massachusetts. I’ve lived in this town since the 1970s. The population in 2014 is less than 43,000. The Center has some stores, but it’s not really a shopping district. There’s a Starbucks, the public library, the main Post Office, a number of restaurants, that sort of thing. We don’t have a mayor. There is a town manager and a town meeting with elected members. Basically, Arlington is a small town, but it’s also part of Greater Boston. It’s a close suburb to Boston, situated between Cambridge and Lexington.

Arlington has always been a safe place to live, and I still feel that way about my neighborhood. But recently, big city crime has arrived here, and I’m kind of shocked. In September, the Arlington Police Department was involved in a sex trafficking case involving men from Rhode Island and Massachusetts who exploited a teenage girl and forced her into prostitution.  Also in September, a man who worked for Arlington’s Department of Public Works was charged with “upskirting” in a local restaurant bathroom. That’s a crime I hadn’t even heard of before. It when someone uses a camera to look up women’s skirts. Ugh, how creepy. And this morning I woke up to this from The Boston Globe:

Video Game Developer: Twitter Rape, Death Threats Forced Me From Home.

An Arlington-based video game developer said she and her husband had to temporarily leave their home after they received graphic threats of sexual assault and death on Twitter—a response, she believes, to her online activism on behalf of women in the tech industry

Brianna Wu, head of development for the indie video game publisher Giant Spacekat, contacted Arlington police Friday evening after a Twitter account named “Death to Brianna”—whose profile description read, “I’m going to kill Brianna Wu and her husband Frank”—posted a number of graphic death threats.

Read some of the tweets at the link.

Arlington Police confirmed that the department is investigating the origin of the message. Twitter has since suspended the account.

Wu said she is “harassed on a daily basis,” often receiving rape threats and unwanted pornographic images, but that Friday night’s messages “crossed a line to the point [she] felt scared.”

“I left the house because I felt unsafe,” Wu wrote in a Facebook message to Boston.com. “I told the officer, and he felt that was reasonable.”

There’s no truly safe place left in America these days, I guess. Maybe it was always like that, and I just didn’t know it. At least we don’t have any Ebola cases yet.

Nina Pham, nurse with Ebola (her identity was revealed by her family)

Nina Pham, nurse with Ebola (her identity was revealed by her family)

Here’s the latest from Dallas.

AP, via the Seattle Times, About 70 hospital staffers cared for Ebola patient.

About 70 staff members at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital were involved in the care of Thomas Eric Duncan after he was hospitalized, including a nurse now being treated for the same Ebola virus that killed the Liberian man who was visiting Dallas, according to medical records his family provided to The Associated Press.

The size of the medical team reflects the hospital’s intense effort to save Duncan’s life, but it also suggests that many other people could have been exposed to the virus during Duncan’s time in an isolation unit.

On Monday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the infection of the nurse means the agency must broaden the pool of people getting close monitoring. Authorities have said they do not know how the nurse was infected, but they suspect some kind of breach in the hospital’s protocol.

According to the AP, the hospital shared medical records with the news agency, but “the CDC does not have them.” WTF?! Why?

The CDC has not yet established a firm number of health care workers who had contact with Duncan.

“If this one individual was infected — and we don’t know how — within the isolation unit, then it is possible that other individuals could have been infected as well,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. “We do not today have a number of such exposed people or potentially exposed health care workers. It’s a relatively large number, we think in the end.”

Caregivers who began treating Duncan after he tested positive for Ebola were following a “self-monitoring regimen” in which they were instructed to take their temperatures regularly and report any symptoms. But they were not considered at high risk.

Typically, the nurses, doctors and technicians caring for a contagious patient in isolation would be treating other people as well, and going home to their families after decontaminating themselves. The hospital has refused to answer questions about their specific duties.

Jesus. It sounds like the hospital is still trying to protect itself rather than doing everything possible to keep this disease from spreading.

Tort law

This story from Reuters is a must read, Following the mistakes in the Texas Ebola story. As we all know now, Thomas Duncan, the Ebola patient who died at the Texas Health Presbyterian hospital initially went to the emergency room with a fever of 103, and he openly told heath care workers he had recently arrived in Dallas from Liberia. But they sent him home anyway. You’d think his family would be able to sue the hospital for millions, but they probably can’t.

As this Reuters report notes:

Texas tort-reform measures have made it one of the hardest places in the United States to sue over medical errors, especially those that occurred in the emergency room …. To bring a civil claim in Texas over an emergency-room error, including malpractice, plaintiffs have to show staff acted in a way that was “willfully and wantonly negligent,” meaning that the staff had to have consciously put Duncan or others at extreme risk by releasing him, rather just having made a mistake.

In other words, tort reform in Texas means you can’t sue a doctor or nurse for making a mistake, even a stupid, fatal one. Or even one that might end up causing multiple fatalities if Duncan gave the virus to others after he was allowed to leave the emergency room.

The author of the article, Stephen Brill is currently “researching a coming book on the economics and politics of U.S. healthcare,” and he has some interesting questions based on the Ebola case. He has found that in the U.S. expensive tests are frequently used–supposedly to protect against malpractice suits. Questions:

Have hospitals tightened their own quality-control and disciplinary processes because they know that doctors don’t have to worry about lawsuits and, therefore, want to add accountability measures of their own to deal with staff mistakes?

Or have they loosened discipline because they don’t have to worry about being sued for their staffs’ mistakes?

tort reform

Brill also wonders why the hospital hasn’t named the nurse or doctor responsible for sending Duncan home after his initial visit to the hospital.

Yes, I would like to read a story about the person who made the mistake. What is his or her record? Was the emergency room busy when Duncan showed up? Or was the staff sitting around with little to do, yet still failed to react carefully enough? And were policies, explicit or implicit, in place encouraging them not to admit uninsured patients whose bills are likely to go unpaid?

What disciplinary action did, or will, the hospital take? What usually happens in a situation like this at that hospital and at hospitals generally?

But more than that, I would like to see a story exploring the issue of personal responsibility and public accountability when private people make mistakes that have huge public ramifications.

I’d like to read a story like that too.

In more positive news, a man who survived Ebola has donated blood plasma to the Dallas nurse who is sick.

The Rev. Jim Khoi, pastor of the Fort Worth church attended by Nina Pham’s family, said she received a transfusion of plasma containing Ebola-fighting antibodies Monday afternoon.

Samaritan’s Purse confirmed the plasma came from Dr. Kent Brantly, the Texas doctor who survived Ebola. Brantly contracted Ebola while working with the nonprofit medical mission group in Liberia.

Samaritan’s Purse spokesman Jeremy Blume says Brantly traveled to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas Sunday to donate the plasma.

Brantly said in a recent speech that he also offered his blood to Thomas Eric Duncan, but that their blood types didn’t match. Duncan died of Ebola on Wednesday.

mitt_romney

In politics news, it looks like we won’t see a third Romney presidential run, because Ann Romney has laid down the law.

From the New York Daily News, Ann Romney quashes rumors of Mitt 2016: ‘Mitt and I are done’.

“Mitt and I are done. Completely,” the wife of the two-time Republican presidential candidate has said to quash rumors that another campaign is in the works.

“Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done. Done. Done. Done,” she said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Mitt Romney, 67, has said repeatedly he wasn’t interested in running again, but in recent weeks he’s been seen as flirting with the prospect.

With no clear Republican frontrunner for 2016, he has taken to the campaign trail to support Senate hopefuls, including Joni Ernst in Iowa on Monday, and has also kept up relationships with key GOP donors.

But his wife, Ann, seems to think a third time is not the charm.

I hope she really means it!

Another potential 2016 candidate, Hillary Clinton spoke about a number of current issues yesterday in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Las Vegas crowd Monday night that more needs to be done to ensure young people can achieve their dreams and free students from onerous college debt “that can feel like an anchor tied to their feet dragging them down.”

“I think our young people deserve a fair shot,” she told about 900 people gathered in a Bellagio resort ballroom for the annual UNLV Foundation dinner benefiting the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Later, talking about the American public’s possible reluctance to get involved in conflicts around the world, Clinton referred to the threats posed by the Ebola virus and the Islamic State militant group.

“They want to bring the fight to Europe and the fight to the United States,” she said of the terrorist group.

And Ebola is not going to stay confined, the former first lady said.

Read more about her remarks at the link.

APTOPIX Police Shooting Missouri Protests

The New York Times has an article about the latest protests in Ferguson, Missouri. I can’t excerpt any of the text, because the Times has found a way to prevent it on some stories; it’s a good article and worth reading at the link. Here’s another report from the AP via ABC News: More Than 50 Arrested in Ferguson Protests.

Pounding rain and tornado watches didn’t deter hundreds of protesters Monday outside Ferguson police headquarters, where they stayed for almost four hours to mark how long 18-year-old Michael Brown’s body was left in a street after he was fatally shot by police.

Organizers of the four-day Ferguson October protests dubbed the day “Moral Monday” and committed acts of civil disobedience across the St. Louis region. In addition to the initial march on Ferguson police headquarters, protesters blocked the entrance to a major employer, held a loud rally inside St. Louis City Hall, disrupted business at a Ferguson shopping center and three Wal-Mart stores and tried to crash a private fundraiser for a St. Louis County executive candidate where U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill was scheduled to appear.

At the Edward Jones Dome Monday night, protesters briefly draped a banner over a Jumbotron video board that read “Rams fans know on and off the field black lives matter.”

More than 50 people were arrested, including scholar and civil rights activist Cornel West.

West was among 42 arrested for peace disturbance at the Ferguson police station. Some protesters used a bullhorn to read the names of people killed by police nationwide. Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy members — some of whom were among the first arrested — led a prayer service before marching to the station two blocks away.

I’m very glad that the protests are continuing. I’m afraid Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson is going to get away with killing Michael Brown, so I think it’s important to keep the story in the nation’s consciousness.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and enjoy your Tuesday!