Tales from the frozen Northeast
Yesterday evening in Cambridge, MA, five people were hit by an “avalanche” of snow that slid off the roof of the local skating rink.
The Boston Globe reports: Five trapped by snow falling from roof of Cambridge ice rink.
One man was completely buried and four other adults were briefly trapped Wednesday evening after snow fell from the roof of a Cambridge skating rink, a police spokesman said.
Four men and one woman were walking on a path between Gold Star Mothers Park and the Simoni Memorial Rink, just south of the McGrath Highway, when a “very compact” section of snow about 30 feet wide and up to 5 feet deep fell from the roof just past 6 p.m., said Jeremy Warnick, a Cambridge police spokesman.
A witness called police, who used snow shovels provided by people at the scene to begin the search for a 34-year-old Cambridge man, the twin brother of another man in the group, who was covered in snow, Warnick said.
His twin and other two men, ages 31 and 30, were briefly buried to the chest but were able to extricate themselves, Warnick said. A 20-year-old woman in the group was not completely buried but suffered injuries to her neck and shoulders, he said.
Cambridge firefighters came to assist the rescue effort, and the Somerville Department of Public Works provided two front-end loaders to remove remaining snow. All five who were hit by the snow had been accounted for by 6:23 p.m., Warnick said. He did not release their identities.
From WBZ (CBS Local Boston), Two People Buried By Falling Snow In Cambridge.
Two people were buried when a massive amount of snow fell off a Cambridge ice rink Wednesday night.
Cambridge Police say five adults were walking down the sidewalk next to the rink when the snow fell.
Dan Delongchamp was the first person on scene and started digging. “I want to say it was five minutes of terror,” Delongchamp said. “Digging in the snow trying to find somebody, it was terrible.”
Delongchamp, of Somerville, was riding his bike near the rink when the snow fell.
“We kept shoveling, kept shoveling, and finally I reached down and I felt something soft, and said this isn’t snow, and it was him,” Delongchamp said.
A 33-year-old man and 20-year-old woman, both of Cambridge – were stuck under the weight of five feet of snow.
Angelo Ciardiello and his crew were around the corner removing snow for the City of Somerville when they learned of the emergency at the nearby Simoni Ice Rink in Cambridge.
“I’d never seen anything like that,” Ciardiello said. “They were buried up to their chest. They were panicked, they were scared.”
The latest craze for younger adults in Boston is jumping or diving out windows and off balconies into deep snow. It has gotten so crazy that the Mayor felt he had to say something about this dangerous pastime.
USA Today reports: Boston mayor to snow daredevils: Chill out.
Think before you jump. Or, don’t jump at all.
That’s the message Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told snow-bound Bostonians at a press conference Tuesday.
Apparently, some of the city’s stir-crazy, thrill-seeking residents are taking to social media with videos of them jumping out of windows into massive snowdrifts.
“I’m asking people to stop their nonsense right now. These are adults jumping out windows. It’s a foolish thing to do, and you could kill yourself,” Walsh said, according to a video of his remarks from the Boston Herald….
“This isn’t Loon Mountain, this is the city of Boston, where we’re trying to remove snow off of the street and it becomes very dangerous. And the last thing we want to do is respond to an emergency call where somebody jumped out of the window because they thought it was a funny thing to do,” Walsh said.
FYI: Loon Mountain is a ski resort in New Hampshire. See more snow diving and jumping photos at The Daily Mail.
Check out this dramatic video of a snow dive:
At MIT, maintenance workers have piled up the snow removed from streets and sidewalks on campus into a huge five-story high “mountain” on Albany Street near classroom buildings and student dorms. There’s a fence around the area, but people are still getting in to climb the “MIT Alps” and slide down again. Here’s a photo posted on Twitter by Susie Blackmon (via Bustle)
“Superbug Nightmare” in Los Angeles
If you thought the measles outbreak in California was scary, “you ain’t heard nothing yet,” as Al Jolson used to say.
From the AP, via ABC News: 7 Infected, 2 Dead After ‘Superbug’ Outbreak at Hospital.
Contaminated medical instruments are to blame for infecting seven patients — including two who died — with an antibiotic-resistant and potentially deadly “superbug” at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, hospital officials said. A total of 179 patients may be infected.
They were exposed to Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, during endoscopic procedures between October and January when it was discovered during tests on a patient, said Dale Tate, a University of California, Los Angeles spokeswoman.
The potentially infected patients are being sent free home-testing kits that UCLA will analyze, the university said.
The bacteria may have been a “contributing factor” in the deaths of two patients, a university statement said.
From Mother Jones: A Superbug Nightmare Is Playing Out at an LA Hospital.
In today’s terrifying health news, the LA Timesreports that two medical scopes used at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center may have been contaminated with the potentially deadly, antibiotic-resistant bacteria Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). Two patients have died from complications that may be connected to the bacteria, and authorities believe that 179 more patients have been exposed.
Most healthy people aren’t at risk of catching a CRE infection, but in hospitals this bacteria can be quite dangerous: CRE kills as many as half of all people in whom the infection has spread to the bloodstream. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working with the CA Department of Public Health to investigate the situation, which is expected to result in more infections.
The problem isn’t just in Los Angeles, though. Last month USA Today reported that hospitals around the country struggle with transmissions of bacteria on these scopes—medical devices commonly used to treat digestive-system problems—and there have been several other under-the-radar outbreaks of CRE.
This is pretty scary stuff, considering that in the antibiotics arms race against bacteria, we are starting to fall behind. Due in large part to unnecessary medical prescriptions and overuse of antibiotics in our food supply, these superbugs are on the rise. In a study published last year that focused specifically on hospitals in the Southeastern United States, researchers reported that CRE cases had increased fivefold between 2008 and 2012.
This just reinforces my determination to stay away from antibiotics, doctors, and hospitals unless I’m really sick–like with a 103 degree temperature or something. A little more from the AP article quoted above:
The two medical devices carried the bacteria even though they were sterilized according to the manufacturer’s specifications, UCLA said. “We removed the infected instruments, and we have heightened the sterilization process,” Tate said.
The CDC said that national figures on the bacteria are not kept, but 47 states have seen cases.
Since 2012, there have been about a half-dozen outbreaks reaching as many as 150 patients, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the UCLA outbreak.
One outbreak occurred in Illinois in 2013. Dozens of patients were exposed to CRE, with some cases apparently linked to a tainted endoscope used at a hospital.
A Seattle hospital, Virginia Mason Medical Center, reported in January that CRE linked to an endoscope sickened at least 35 patients, and 11 died, although it was unclear whether the infection played a role in their deaths.
According to the LA Times, as many as 179 patients may have been exposed to CRE in the past several months.
UCLA said it discovered the outbreak late last month while running tests on a patient. This week, it began to notify 179 other patients who were treated from October to January and offer them medical tests. By some estimates, if the infection spreads to a person’s bloodstream, the bacteria can kill 40% to 50% of patients.
At issue is a specialized endoscope inserted down the throats of about 500,000 patients annually to treat cancers, gallstones and other ailments of the digestive system.
These duodenoscopes are considered minimally invasive, and doctors credit them for saving lives through early detection and treatment. But medical experts say some scopes can be difficult to disinfect through conventional cleaning because of their design, so bacteria are transmitted from patient to patient.
These instruments are not the same type used in more routine endoscopies and colonoscopies.
The procedure in question is known as ERCP, or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. The superbug is carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae.
Read much more at the link.
Jeb Bush meets the media
“I’m my own man,” Jeb Bush announced in a speech yesterday. From Reuters:
Republican Jeb Bush staked out a robust vision for U.S. foreign policy in line with party doctrine on Wednesday and sought to ease concerns that he might be influenced by his powerful political family by insisting, “I’m my own man.”
A frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, Bush said he would back a global strategy against Islamic State that “takes them out.”
But he offered no specifics on how to do this and avoided military threats that could reawaken memories of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq launched by his older brother, former President George W. Bush, over weapons of mass destruction that were never found.
Speaking at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the former Florida governor struck a balance between respecting the service of his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and brother, while suggesting he would make decisions based on circumstances neither of them had to face.
“I’m my own man, and my views are shaped by my own thinking and my own experiences,” Bush said.
Bush’s claim was undermined by his list of foreign policy advisers. The Washington Post reports: Jeb Bush vows to set his own course while tapping longtime family advisers.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush on Wednesday promised to chart his own course on foreign policy — even as he announced a campaign brain trust associated, in part, with the most contentious policies of his brother’s and father’s presidencies….
In his prepared remarks, Bush mentioned Iraq, where his father and brother waged wars, only in passing — including once by mistake, when he meant to say Iran.
But in a question-and-answer session afterward, Bush addressed the troubled conflict in Iraq during his brother’s administration. “There were mistakes made in Iraq for sure,” he said….
The threat of Iran as a nuclear power is “the defining foreign policy issue of our time,” Bush contended, arguing that the Obama administration has shown itself “unequal to the task.” ….
Meanwhile, the 21 names announced by his campaign-in-waiting as supporters and advisers on foreign policy did not provide much indication of what direction Bush would take.
The list represents the full spectrum of views within the Republican foreign policy establishment — from relative moderates, including former secretaries of state George P. Shultz and James A. Baker III, to staunch neoconservatives such as Iraq war architect Paul D. Wolfowitz.
A few more Jeb links:
The Atlantic: If Jeb Bush Isn’t George W. Bush, Who Is He?
Think Progress: Jeb Bush’s Attack On Obama Over Iran Goes Horribly Wrong.
Washington Monthly: Politico Makes Case For Just Declaring Jeb Bush President Right Now.
More News Links
New York Magazine: Justice Department May Sue Ferguson Police Over Racial Bias.
Talking Points Memo: South Dakota Lawmaker says ‘Planned Parenthood Worse Than ISIS’
Undercover Michigan: Michigan Woman dies after accidently shooting herself while Adjusting Bra Holster.
The Missing Leak Sports Blog: Time for Goodell to Step Down?
Tom Curran at Comcast Sportsnet New England: Another black eye for NFL in Deflategate quest.
Politico: Rudy Giuliani says President Obama doesn’t love America (Giuliani supports Scott Walker.)
The Guardian: Chapel Hill ‘hate crime’ response criticised by Muslim lawmaker Keith Ellison.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a tremendous Thursday!
Just three more days until election day. The political pundits are hammering us day after day with the news that a Republican-controlled Senate is a foregone conclusion.That’s why I liked the NYT piece by Nate Cohn that Dakinikat included in her post yesterday on how the polls under-count Democratic voters. Cohn claims the inaccuracies may not be as important this year, because young voters and minority voters may not bother to vote. But what if he’s wrong? Democrats are making concerted efforts to turn out African American voters, and Democrats are traditionally better at getting out the vote.
Cohn’s article was based on an analysis at Huffington Post, which found that polls underestimated Democratic results in 2010 Senate races by 3.1 percent. The polls also underestimated President Obama’s vote totals in 2012. A number of important Senate races are close enough to be within the polls’ margin of error, so we really do have some reasons for hope. Mark Blumenthal and Ariel Edwards-Levy on October 16:
For the last four weeks, HuffPost’s poll tracking model has given Republicans slightly better than a 50/50 probability of winning a majority in the Senate, largely on the basis of leads of 3 percent or less by Republican candidates in critical states like Iowa, Colorado and Arkansas. On TuesdayHuffPollster noted the real potential for late shifts or polling errors of the same magnitude, a possibility that explains why considerable uncertainty remains about our current forecast of a Republican takeover.
RealClearPolitics election analyst Sean Trende added more data on this issue Thursday morning, sharing an analysis showing that polling leads of 1 to 2 percentage points in the final three weeks of the election translate into victory just over 60 percent of the time. Even candidates with leads of 3 to 4 percentage points sometimes end up behind on Election Day.
“Be wary of Senate polls,” Emory University political science professor Alan Abramowitz tweeted on Tuesday, adding that the RealClearPolitics Senate race polling averages in 2010 “underestimated D performance in all 7 tossup states.” HuffPollster data scientist Natalie Jackson checked the backtesting conducted on our current model and the same result. Our final run of the model before the 2010 election would have underestimated the performance of Democratic candidates in all seven of the Senate races rated as late toss-ups, and would have miscalled winners in two states, Nevada and Colorado.
We also looked at the the prior midterm election in 2006, and found a similar pattern. The polling model understated the Democratic performance in five of seven races rated as late toss-ups (we used the Cook Political Report classifications for both years. Cook and RealClearPolitics rated the same seven states as toss-ups on 2010).
Here’s another article by the same authors, published yesterday: How The Senate Polls Could Be Wrong.
With less than a week remaining before Election Day, HuffPost’s poll tracking model continues to report roughly the same forecast for control of the U.S. Senate as it has for the past two weeks: The polling averages show Republicans leading at least nominally in enough states to gain a 53-seat majority. The margins remain close enough, however, that the overall probability of a Republican majority is just 63 percent as of this writing. In other words, polling shows the Senate battle leaning Republican, but there is still a real potential that Democrats could hang on due to late shifts or polling errors. So how could these polling averages be wrong?
The biggest problem for pollsters is reaching people who use cell phones and have no land line. It’s often assumed that only young people do this, but I’m an old lady and I got rid of my land line years ago. There must be others like me.
…the approaches many pollsters are using to attempt to reach the cell-only population remain unproven and, effectively, experimental. Pollsters that use an automated, recorded voice methodology are barred by federal law from dialing cell phones, and many are relying on interviews conducted over the Internet to make up the difference. Live interviewer phone polls conducted at the state level in 2014 are mostly using samples drawn from cell phone directories compiled by data vendors — methods that may have their own limitations.
More important, the missing cell-phone-only voters may have been only part of the problem. Another theory is that the questions most media pollsters use to identify likely voters missed less enthusiastic Democrats who ultimately turned out to vote. In some polls, that pattern was evident in sample compositions that understated non-white voters.
The state with the greatest potential to see a repeat of these problems is Colorado, where polls understated Democratic candidates by 2 to 3 percentage points the last two elections, and two additional factors could lead to a repeat in 2014. First is the unique challenge of reaching Colorado’s Spanish speaking Latino voters, who tend to be more Democratic than those more fluent in English. Second, the state shifted to all-mail voting in 2014, with every registered voter automatically receiving a ballot via U.S. mail. Political scientists who studied similar shifts in Washington State found that a shift to all-mail voting produced a 2 to 4 percentage point increase in turnout, with the largest increases occurring among “lower participating registrants,” in particular those who had previously voted only in presidential elections. In Colorado and elsewhere, these “drop off voters” are the primary targets of the massive Democratic get-out-the-vote campaign.
And from Bloomberg, Why Political Polling Is Getting Harder.
…[I]t’s getting harder for survey researchers to corral enough people on the line for a representative sample.
“It’s becoming a much more difficult, nerve-wracking business,” said Geoff Garin, the president of Hart Research Associates and a leading Democratic pollster, who spoke to Bloomberg News editors and reporters Wednesday. “The willingness of respondents to participate in polls has declined, the move to cellphones has had an impact,” and more people are screening their calls, Garin said.
The challenges are acute in states like Iowa, where the highly competitive Senate election between Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst has drawn more than $54 million in general-election outside spending (including party committees). That’s a lot of TV, radio, mail, and phone calls.
According to Kantar Media’s CMAG, Iowa Senate ads have run on local broadcast stations more than 34,000 times in just the past 30 days, second only to the 38,948 ads in North Carolina, which has more than three times Iowa’s population.
“If you are in reasonably small state—there are only four congressional districts in Iowa—with a reasonably competitive election, you are getting a lot of phone calls at your home, and not just polling phone calls,” Garin said.
And the ones who don’t hang up immediately may have been polled before.
Finally, here’s a detailed post at Five-Thirty-Eight on how the polling “sausage” is made. There are lots of possibilities for polling error.
The Washington Post is at it again, reported leaks from “law enforcement sources” who claim that the DOJ isn’t going to have enough evidence to bring civil rights charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for killing teenager Michael Brown.
Justice Department investigators have all but concluded they do not have a strong enough case to bring civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., law enforcement officials said.
That is so vague as to be meaningless. What law enforcement officials? Are they from Ferguson PD, St. Louis PD, the St. Louis DA’s office? It doesn’t sound like they’re from the DOJ.
“The evidence at this point does not support civil rights charges against Officer Wilson,” said one person briefed on the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
One person did speak on the record:
Justice spokesman Brian Fallon said the case remains open and any discussion of its results is premature. “This is an irresponsible report by The Washington Post that is based on idle speculation,” Fallon said in a statement.
But, says the Post:
Other law enforcement officials interviewed by The Post said it was not too soon to say how the investigation would end. “The evidence we have makes federal civil rights charges unlikely,” one said.
F**k you, Washington Post!
A few more Ferguson links:
Ryan J. Reilly at HuffPo, Police In Ferguson Stock Up On Riot Gear Ahead Of Grand Jury Decision.
KSDK.com, MSU paper prints racial slurs directed at Ferguson protesters. Stay classy, MSU!
Kaci Hickox talks about the judge’s decision that she doesn’t have to be locked in her home under police guard and can simply follow CDC guidelines on Ebola. From ABC News:
A nurse who fought quarantine rules after returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa said a court ruling in her favor today will ensure that other health care workers returning from Africa are given “human treatment.”
“I am humbled today by the judge’s decision and even more humbled by the support that we have received by the town of Fort Kent, the state of Maine, across the United States and even across the border,” Hickox, 33, told reporters today from her home in Fort Kent.
A judge in Maine this morning ruled that Hickox could leave her home and spend time in public spaces despite other state officials’ attempts to force her into a mandatory quarantine until a 21-day potential Ebola incubation period ends.
The judge noted in his ruling that although the state’s fears may be irrational, they are real and Hickox should be mindful of them.
“I know Ebola is a scary disease,” Hickox said today. “I have seen it face-to-face.”
I can’t begin to say how much I admire this woman’s courage. Some reactions to Hickox from the Maine town she’s living in, Fort Kent residents divided on feelings over Kaci Hickox.
FORT KENT, Maine — On Friday afternoon Kaci Hickox, the nurse released from isolation after returning last week to the U.S. from West Africa, where she treated Ebola patients, thanked the residents of Fort Kent for their support and assured them she was sensitive to their concerns.
But not everyone in this northern Maine community is convinced Hickox has their best interest at heart and some say the fears people have of possibly being exposed to Ebola are negatively affecting local businesses.
The situation “is bound to affect the whole town,” Steve Daigle, owner of Stevie D’s Panini Plus said Friday. “The economy around here is already so fragile, every dollar we lose hurts us.” ….
On Friday, another business owner in Fort Kent, who did not want to give his name, said he, too, has heard from customers planning to shop out of town in the wake of the Ebola concerns.
A local dentist also voiced his displeasure that Hickox has not committed to home quarantine.
“I think that is very irresponsible of her,” Dr. Lucien Daigle said. “She cannot guarantee 100 percent she will not become symptomatic [and] in that worst-case scenario the ramifications will be beyond what you can imagine.”
Daigle said he has spoken to several customers who have told him they plan to shop out of town until the 21-day incubation period for the virus ends for Hickox on Nov. 10.
“People are afraid,” Daigle said.
At least people named Daigle are afraid…
A few more links:
Boston Globe, Vermonter being monitored for Ebola, governor says.
Politico, Why a GOP Senate could be short-lived.
The Daily Beast, If you like personhood, you’ll love the GOP Senate.
Five Thirty Eight, Senate Update: With 4 Days Left, Here’s The State Of The Races
Business Insider, A Virus Found In Lakes May Be Literally Changing The Way People Think.
Boston.com, How GamerGate Is Influencing MIT Video Game Teachers.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a wonderful weekend!
The other day I put some new sheets on my bed, they were these nice old-fashioned olive and blue paisley print cotton sateen ones that I’d bought years ago. The design was pretty, but for some odd reason, there was something about these damn sheets that attracted me…and it wasn’t until I put them up on the bed that I realized just what that was… These sheets must have reached somewhere in the back of my memories to a set of sheets belonging to my grandparents.
I can remember a paisley print, it wasn’t the same style…hell, the sheets my Nana and Nano had were from the seventies and had that exaggerated bubbleness about them. But they were the same color scheme and that, vivid color combinations like the chords of a song…or the flavors of a dish and smells in a kitchen, is something that can trigger a thought or flashback quicker than any other form of nostalgia out there.
It must be the personal connection, the emotional attachment and physical awareness that reaches our senses. Those sheets. Those olive drab and blue paisley sheets reminded me of being small and young. Sleeping between my Nana and Nano in their big king sized bed…secure and safe hidden under 1970’s polyester chic bedding, while my beloved grandparents snored loudly on either side.
Things are so disturbing in our world today that we all are either knowingly or unconsciously seeking out some form of comfort and security. For me it was wrapping myself in a 100% cotton cocoon, a paisley blue shield. It is a childish approach perhaps, but it is a welcomed one. I am very lucky. I have both of my parents still living…I can be as childish as I like…and hiding in bed avoiding the outside world for a little while, feels as natural as can be.
But all this made me think of our Dakinikat, who is losing her Dad…I cannot imagine what she is going through. I guess when you are faced with the reality of losing a parent, you are also snapped back from the security of that nostalgic cocoon that acts as a refuge. The paisley blues. My thoughts are with you Kat, and I know that there is nothing I can say or do to make things easier for you now…but please know that I am here for you.
Okay, I had to take that little detour this morning. Now for the news links. Wow, some big news goings on about Ferguson: Federal judge: Police in Ferguson violated Constitution – CNN.com
A federal judge has ruled that police in Ferguson, Missouri, violated the Constitution when they told protesters that they had to keep walking and that they couldn’t stand still.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry issued a preliminary injunction Monday forbidding law enforcement from carrying out the practice because “it is likely that these agencies will again apply this unconstitutional policy.”
Law enforcement agencies adopted the policy on August 18, a few days after protests began following the shooting death of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown at the hands of a white police officer.
The case was brought by the ACLU after it saw the strategy being practiced as recently as Se[p]tember 27. In some cases, officers told protesters they couldn’t stand still for more than five seconds. In others, the protesters were told they were walking too slowly.
This is specifically for Ferguson protest alone:
The judge said officers have the right to disperse protesters, restrict certain areas from protests, and use other lawful crowd control measures.
“This injunction prevents only the enforcement of an ad hoc rule developed for the Ferguson protests,” she said.
Which is something we will be sure to see more of in the future. Take a look at this shit:
Ferguson protestors emerged at Busch Stadium last night after game three of the NLDS playoff game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers; and wow, did things get ugly real fast.
Argus Streaming News, which did an excellent job of posting real-time information during the August clashes with Ferguson police, posted a 25-minute video showing a small group of demonstrators chanting outside the ballpark Monday evening, with another group of white Cards fans chanting right back at them.
At the top of the video, an older gentleman looks directly at the camera and shouts about how if these (all-black) protestors had been working (at night?) “we wouldn’t have this problem!” The crowd soon begins chanting “Let’s go Cardinals!” to drown out the protestors’ chant about “shutting the shit down” if they aren’t given justice for slain 18-year-old Michael Brown. That Cards chant quickly changed into “Let’s go Darren!” referring to Officer Darren Wilson, the Ferguson cop who killed the young man.
It gets worse, read more about it and see video at the link.
Then there is news that Huge Increase In Voter Registrations In Ferguson Apparently Never Happened
Last week, numerous news outlets, national and local, reported on a huge increase in registered voters in Ferguson, Mo., following the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown. But it apparently didn’t actually happen.
The St. Louis County elections board reported that 3,287 Ferguson residents had registered to vote. That is a huge surge for a city of 21,000, particularly as controversy swelled about the racial make-up of the city government after the shooting. Ferguson is two-thirds African-American, but its mayor and all but one member of the six-person city council are white. B
ut apparently that first report was in error. There was no voter registration spike. The county elections board reversed course on Tuesday and said that, actually, only 128 people had registered to vote since the shooting.
In the world of marriage rights and equality, I have a few links this morning: Ninth Circuit Rules For Marriage Equality In Nevada And Idaho | ThinkProgress
The Ninth Circuit has ruled that the bans on same-sex marriage in Nevada and Idaho are unconstitutional. The Nevada case was remanded back to a district court, which means the final outcome might not come as quickly, but the decision’s mandate will issue in one week for Idaho, which will bring the number of marriage equality states up to 26 — presuming nothing happens in any of the other states impacted by other circuits’ decisions and the Supreme Court’s actions Monday.
UPDATED 10:58 p.m. The Ninth Circuit Court put its ruling into full effect on Tuesday evening, in this order and this formal mandate. That should clear the way promptly for same-sex couples to file for marriage licenses in the two states involved directly and, soon, in the other three states in the circuit, depending upon how state officials react.
Striking down bans on same-sex marriage in two states, and setting the stage for the same outcome in three others, a federal appeals court in San Francisco on Tuesday nullified laws in Idaho and Nevada. The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is expected to control pending challenges to bans in Alaska, Arizona, and Montana.
With developments since Monday’s refusal by the Supreme Court to get involved in the constitutional controversy at this point, it now seems clear that the same-sex marriage campaign has succeeded — or very soon will — in thirty-five of the fifty states, plus Washington, D.C. That is the combined result of federal and state court rulings, actions of voters in passing ballot measures, passage of new laws by state legislatures, and the Supreme Court’s refusal to second-guess the near-unanimity of federal court rulings in favor of gay and lesbian marriage.
Full coverage at that SCOTUSblog link.
Just 12 years ago it was illegal for gays and lesbians to marry anywhere in the U.S. But Monday, the drive to legalize same-sex marriage – which began some two decades ago as a seemingly far-fetched quest – neared final victory as the Supreme Court cleared the way for gays and lesbians to marry in 11 additional states – bringing the total to 30, plus the District of Columbia.
Now, more than half of Americans live in a state that offers, or will soon offer, what supporters call “marriage equality.” Social conservatives had seen the high court as their last hope to halt the rapid advance of gay marriage. But in a surprise move, the justices rejected without comment appeals from five states whose bans against same-sex marriage had been struck down by lower courts.
The decision means gay marriage will soon be legal even in the South. Virginia, one of the states whose laws were invalidated when the high court refused to intervene, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples within hours.
By not issuing a formal ruling, the justices put off the question of whether the Constitution guarantees gays and lesbians a right to marry. Although the outcome does not set a legal precedent that binds lower courts, it did send a strong message that same-sex marriage could soon be legal across the country. The court’s decision made gay marriage immediately legal in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin.
If your state is not on this list…it may well be soon.
Six additional states will be affected, because they are in the same federal appellate circuit court districts that have declared gay marriage bans unconstitutional: North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming.
Separately, 19 states had legalized same-sex marriage. The high court’s action capped a legal and political reversal of nearly unprecedented proportions on what was once one of the nation’s most divisive social issues. James Esseks of the American Civil Liberties Union called the action “a watershed movement for the entire country. We are one big step closer to the day when all same-sex couples will have the freedom to marry.”
On to another court case making news: BREAKING: Federal Court Strikes Down One Of The Most Aggressive Gerrymanders In The Country | ThinkProgress
One of the most aggressive gerrymanders in the country is unconstitutional, according to a divided three-judge panel in Virginia.
In 2012, President Barack Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney by three points in the state of Virginia. Nevertheless, Republicans control eight of the state’s eleven congressional districts.
Yet, according to an opinion by Judge Allyson Duncan, a George W. Bush appointee, the maps that produced this result are unconstitutional and the legislature must “act within the next legislative session to draw a new congressional district plan.”Although this will permit the 2014 elections to be run under the old maps, new maps must be in place by 2016 (assuming, of course, that this decision is not reversed on appeal).
As Virginia currently has a Democratic governor, Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be able to veto any plan which is unfair to his fellow Democrats, while the GOP-controlled legislature will no doubt push for a map that serves Republican interests. Because the current maps favor Republicans so strongly, however, the likely result will be maps that are much more favorable to Democrats.
The flaw in the current maps arises from the state’s Third Congressional District, currently represented by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA). In a professed effort to comply with the Voting Rights Act’s requirement that new congressional maps do not cause a ‘‘retrogression in the position of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise,” (a requirement that has since been neutered by the Supreme Court,) the new maps packed an additional 44,711 African American voters into Rep. Scott’s district — thus preventing these black voters from influencing elections in other districts. This decision, according to the court, was not allowed.
The Voting Rights Act, Judge Duncan explained, “does not ‘give covered jurisdictions carte blanche to engage in racial gerrymandering in the name of nonretrogression.’”
Scott’s new district has “an odd shape” made up of “a composition of a disparate chain of communities, predominantly African-American, loosely connected by the James River.” Moreover, while the new black voters increased the black voter population within the district from 53.1 percent to 56.3 percent, such packing was completely unnecessary to maintain black voter strength in Virginia.
“In 2010,” Duncan explained, “Congressman Scott won 70% of the vote, while in 2012–under the redistricting plan at issue here–he won by an even larger margin, receiving 81.3% of the vote.” The district, in other words, looked a whole lot like a racial gerrymander.
As a practical matter, the map drawers were also quite successful in diminishing the power of Democratic voters because, in a district where the Democrat wins with 81.3 percent of the vote, 31.3 percent of the vote is essentially wasted since it was unnecessary to push the winning candidate over the top. Should the new maps produce a congressional delegation that more closely resembles the state’s partisan preferences, it is likely that Democrats will gain 2-3 seats in the House.
Moving on to world news, AP via ABC News: UN: Syria Declares Another 4 Chemical Facilities – ABC News Another typhoon is heading for Japan: Super Typhoon Vongfong Headed Toward Japan – Business Insider
Super Typhoon Vongfong is now the strongest Pacific typhoon this year, packing estimated maximum winds of 180 mph, the equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane, The Weather Channel reports. The storm is projected to move across the western Pacific Ocean and track north toward Japan before making landfall later this week. “It’s safe to say Vongfong is the strongest storm on earth since Haiyan last year,” The Weather Channel storm specialist Michael Lowry told the website.
Dozens of people had to be evacuated from an oil platform overnight as a radioactive ship drifted off the Scottish coast. […] The 300ft Parida, which sails under a Danish flag, was being towed by a tug towards Inverness for inspection and repairs on Wednesday morning. The coastguard had sent their own emergency vessel from Orkney to the scene but the ship’s operators arranged for a commercial tow by the Pacific Champion.
Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, said ministers were “closely monitoring the incident”. “A Scottish Government Resilience meeting has taken place with key partners including Police Scotland and the Maritime Coastguard Agency, which is coordinating an operation to stabilise the vessel and ensure it is safely recovered to harbour,” he added. “Ministers have been briefed and Scottish Government officials are engaging closely with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the UK Government and key partners to ensure appropriate response arrangements are in place.”
More on the ship here: BBC News – Radioactive waste ship Parida loses power in Moray Firth
Seems the ship is carrying radioactive waste.
The rest of today’s links in dump fashion, well…in even more dump fashion:
This is a good one, at least I thought it was: Bill Maher and Sam Harris Were Right About One Thing: Many Liberals are Hypocrites on Religion | The Daily Banter
Jonathan Chait. I would read this if you have absolutely nothing better to do. : What Liberals Get Wrong About Football — NYMag
On the Georgia scene: Outsourcing, Obama top topics in heated U.S. Senate debate | www.ajc.com
More Bad News for the GOP: Hillary Clinton Could Turn Georgia Into a Swing State in 2016 (thanks for that link BB)
Hullabaloo– No wrongdoing, no accountability by digby
Sadly predictable:A Habersham County grand jury has decided not to charge any of the law enforcement officers involved in the botched drug raid that disfigured a toddler.
More details at the link…but,
The Feds are looking into the case now. But it doesn’t change the fact that the de facto police immunity from prosecution for negligence in this country is now killing a lot of people.
Some things are beyond the pale and to fail to check to see if children are on the premises before throwing incendiary devices into it is one of them.
Obviously, there was no need to use these battlefield tactics for such a low level crime in the first place but if they insist on using their robo-cop gear they have a special responsibility to ensure that innocent people are not in the line of fire.
No one is more innocent than a baby. They should have to pay a price for that failure. Any of the rest of us would for doing something this derelict and irresponsible.
‘Sexting’ is becoming the new norm for teenagers growing up, study finds – Science – News – The Independent For Global Waming: These 10 Countries Have Pledged $2.3 Billion to Fight Climate Change. The US Isn’t One of Them. | Mother Jones
Finally…did ya see it? Let’s Watch the Moon Drip Red With Blood! | Mother Jones
Don’t look now but the blood moon is back. The full lunar eclipse should begin to be visible around 2:15am PT.
No, it does not mean the world is ending. Watch it here or, you know, just go outside and look up…or don’t! You don’t have to go outside. Maybe you’re a shut in. Maybe it’s cloudy. Maybe you’re blind. Maybe you’ve never been outside because your father was killed by a bear when you were very young and now you have a debilitating fear of bears and there are a lot of bears outside so you don’t go outside. Whatever. It’s not important. What I’m saying is, your inability to go outside is not a deal breaker for me. I’m not going to let our relationship die on this hill. We can make this marriage work whether you want to go outside and watch it or not.
Video at the link. Have a good day and leave some comments below…
President Obama is meeting with other NATO leaders in Newport, Wales today, and the focus of meetings will be Russia’s encroachment into Ukraine and how to deal with it. The Christian Science Monitor reports: NATO members gather in Wales with Russia at the top of the agenda.
Russia faced harsh criticism at the start of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Wales today with the 28 member state alliance reevaluating its security role in Europe amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance continues to witness “Russian involvement in destabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine” even after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a seven-point peace plan. Russia maintains it has not armed rebels in eastern Ukraine or contributed to the conflict there.
Early reports from the summit suggest NATO leaders are set to agree to create “rapid reaction” forces that could be deployed in less than two days to regional crisis spots. Countries close to Russia, especially Poland, have called for NATO to permanently station troops on their territory, but Reuters reports this is unlikely to happen because it would break a 1997 agreement the alliance made with Russia.
As the Monitor reported, the creation of rapid response forces wouldthrust the United States into the center of any future conflict.
Terrific. Supposedly, Russian president Vladimir Putin in proposing a cease-fire, but he’s offering few specifics. From The New York Times: Putin Lays Out Proposal to End Ukraine Conflict.
Mr. Putin’s peace plan, jotted out during a plane ride over Siberia, muddied the diplomatic waters, leaving the West an excuse for delaying punitive sanctions that would also hurt European economies on the verge of a new recession. And it was expected to have some appeal to war-weary Ukrainians.
The ultimate effect, coming after Russian troops intervened in Ukraine last week to beat back a successful government offensive, may be to leave the country as a loose coalition that Moscow could still dominate, which critics of the Russian president say is his real aim.
It is being called a “seven-point plan,” but according to the Times,
Mr. Putin’s plan seemed to raise more questions than it answered. First, there was no mechanism for implementation. Second, just hours earlier, his own spokesman had repeated the Russian position, widely criticized as implausible, that Moscow could not negotiate a cease-fire because it was not a direct party to the conflict.
Analysts suggested that Mr. Putin’s strategy is to convince Kiev that it must negotiate, not fight, and to reinforce the idea that the overall outcome depended on Moscow.
“Russia wants to show that it is in command of what is happening,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of a prominent Russian foreign policy journal. “For Russia, it is important first to prevent the Ukrainians from thinking that they could win militarily, and to accept the separatist leaders as partners in negotiations.”
A few more headlines and opinions:
Al Jazeera: NATO summit to highlight unity against Russia.
Wall Street Journal: As Leaders Meet for NATO Summit, Alliance Says Russian Troops Still Active in Ukraine.
Foreign Policy: NATO’s Make or Break Moment (opinion).
Bloomberg: NATO Shifts Aim From Waterloo to East as Russia Menaces (opinion).
European Central Bank News
The European Central Bank’s Mario Draghi finally decided to try to do something about Europe’s horrible economic situation. From the NYT: European Central Bank to Start Asset Purchases After Further Rate Cut.
FRANKFURT — Bolstering a surprise interest rate cut on Thursday, the European Central Bank will soon begin buying packages of bank loans in an effort to stimulate lending in the faltering eurozone economy.
The move is unprecedented, but appears to fall short of the broad, large-scale asset purchases advocated by many economists to prevent stagnation in the eurozone.
The central bank said that in October it would begin buying asset-backed securities, bundles of loans issued by banks to businesses and households. The central bank will also buy covered bonds, Mario Draghi, the E.C.B. president said. Covered bonds are similar to asset-backed securities, in that they also are made up of bank loans.
Perhaps more significantly, Mr. Draghi said that the central bank’s governing council was ready to take further measures if needed — a clear reference to quantitative easing, or broad-based purchases of government bonds or other assets.
Mr. Draghi did not say how much the central bank would spend buying asset-backed securities and covered bonds, adding that there was not yet enough information on the size of the market. He said the central bank would buy existing and new assets including residential and corporate loans. He said the purchases would be “significant,” if still short of a level considered quantitative easing.
Marketwatch: U.S. stocks open up after ECB rate cut.
Ferguson Civil Rights Investigation
As we heard yesterday, the Justice Department will likely announce today that it is launching a civil rights investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department.
From The Washington Post: Justice Dept. to probe Ferguson police force.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. this week will launch a broad civil rights investigation into the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department, according to two federal law enforcement officials.
The investigation, which could be announced as early as Thursday afternoon, will be conducted by the Justice Department’s civil rights division and follow a process similar to that used to investigate complaints of profiling and the use of excessive force in other police departments across the country, the officials said.
The federal officials said the probe will look not only at Ferguson but also at other police departments in St. Louis County. Some, like Ferguson, are predominantly white departments serving majority-African-American communities, and at least one department invited the Justice Department to look at its practices. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the pending inquiry.
The investigation is in addition to a Justice Department probe into whether Officer Darren Wilson, who fired the fatal shots, violated Brown’s civil rights. The new probe will look more broadly at whether the department employed policies and practices that resulted in a pattern of civil rights violations.
The Washington Post reported Saturday that five current and one former member of the Ferguson police force face pending federal lawsuits claiming they used excessive force. The lawsuits, as well as more than a half-dozen internal investigations, include claims that individual officers separately hog-tied a 12-year-old boy who was checking his family mailbox, pistol-whipped children and used a stun gun on a mentally ill man who died as a result.
More from The New York Times: Justice Dept. Inquiry to Focus on Practices of Police in Ferguson.
Ferguson’s police chief, Thomas Jackson, said in an interview on Wednesday night that he would welcome the investigation.
“We’ve been doing everything we can to become a professional police department and a professional city,” he said. “We have no intentional policies or procedures which discriminated or violated civil rights. But if we have anything there which may unintentionally do that, we need to know about it.”
Chief Jackson said he met with Justice Department officials on Wednesday afternoon and discussed the broader investigation. “Obviously, we have gaps. And any help we can get to help fill those gaps and to make ourselves stronger, we welcome,” he said.
What a crock of sh&t that is! I’ll just bet Jackson is thrilled about the Justice Department probe into his joke of a police force. Wouldn’t you love to hear what he’s saying privately?
In the Ferguson case, the Justice Department will conduct what it calls a “pattern or practice” investigation, with officials looking for evidence that the police have repeatedly violated residents’ civil rights. Such inquiries have been one of the Justice Department’s preferred tactics in addressing accusations of police misconduct.
Rabid Bobcat Attacks
Here’s a strange story I came across yesterday in The Boston Globe: Rabid Bobcat Spent Labor Day Weekend in Conn. Attacking People.
What’s worse than stumbling upon an angry bobcat on your nightly walk with your newborn daughter? Stumbling upon an angry, rabid bobcat on your nightly walk with your newborn daughter.
That’s what happened to Summer and Tom Berube last Sunday. The Lebanon, CT, couple were taking their evening walk with their infant daughter, Neeve, when a bobcat approached them.
According to NECN, the bobcat hissed and ran towards Tom, who was carrying his baby. Tom yanked a mailbox out of the ground and used it to defend his family, knocking the animal down when it leapt at him. Summer, meanwhile, said she “was just screaming at the top of my lungs for help.”
That help soon came from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which had already been alerted to the presence of an aggressive bobcat in the area. On Saturday, a woman in the neighboring Connecticut town of Bozrah was attacked by a bobcat while feeding her chickens. She was scratched and bitten, but quickly taken to a local hospital for treatment. If caught early enough, a postexposure vaccination prevents the disease from spreading.
I had no idea there were bobcats running around in New England, but according The Hartford Courant, although sightings are rare, “Bobcats are common in Connecticut and are found in every town. They can weigh as much as 40 pounds, but rarely interact with people and rarely have rabies, DEEP said.”
They Shall Be Released
Maybe you’re wondering why I’ve illustrated this post with photos of Bob Dylan. In 1968, I bought a two-record album in a plain white cover that was being sold by a street hawker in Harvard Square. I learned this morning from Wikipedia that it was known as “The Great White Wonder,” but either I didn’t know that then or I’ve forgotten. The recording was a bootleg of Bob Dylan’s so-called “basement tapes,” recorded in Woodstock, NY, with backup from The Band. Later, in 1975, a selection of the songs they had recorded was released as a studio album.
Anyway, the basement tapes are back in the news, because they are all going to be released as a 6-CD set.
The Guardian reports: Bob Dylan to share full Basement Tapes.
Bob Dylan is sharing the rest of his Basement Tapes. Four decades after the singer released 24 songs under that title – cuts he recorded with the Band in upstate New York – his label have agreed to unveil 114 more tracks from the same 1967 sessions.
“Some of this stuff is mind-boggling,” Sid Griffin, author of the set’s liner notes,told Rolling Stone. Packaged under the title The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, the six-CD set incorporates alternate versions of Blowin’ In The Wind and It Ain’t Me Babe, covers of tunes by Johnny Cash and Curtis Mayfield, and at least 30 tracks that Rolling Stone claims “even fanatical Dylan fans never knew existed”. A shorter, two-disc compilation, The Basement Tapes Raw, will present 12 of the unreleased tracks alongside the original LP.
Almost all of this material was harvested from reel-to-reel tape: 20 tapes in all, which the Band’s Garth Hudson kept stored in his Woodstock home. Jan Haust, a Toronto-based collector, acquired the archive about 10 years ago; he worked with Dylan’s reps to find a way to put them out. Although a few tapes were allegedly missing, and a handful of recordings “just [sounded] like a distortion”, everything else is making its way to the public. “We usually curate these packages more, but we knew the fans would be disappointed if we didn’t put out absolutely everything,” an unnamed Dylan source told Rolling Stone.
Fans of The Basement Tapes have always known that there was unreleased material. There have been several expanded, bootleg editions over the years, and musicians have even turned their attention to Dylan’s unreleased Basement Tapes-era lyrics. Earlier this year, T Bone Burnett collaborated with Marcus Mumford, Elvis Costello and others to record their own versions of his incomplete songs. “The stuff that people haven’t heard justifies, in every way, shape and form, all the hype, hubris and myth that surrounds these tapes,” Griffin promised.
USA Today has published a list of all the songs on the album to be released in November.
So . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a tremendous Thursday!