The Moderate Voice http://themoderatevoice.com An Internet hub with domestic and international news, analysis, original reporting, and popular features from the left, center, indies, centrists, moderates, and right Fri, 31 Oct 2014 22:00:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Russia warns it’s coming for the Arctic’s oil, including an area Canada claims as its own http://themoderatevoice.com/199982/russia-warns-coming-arctics-oil-including-area-canada-claims/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199982/russia-warns-coming-arctics-oil-including-area-canada-claims/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 22:00:56 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199982 MOSCOW – Russia has warned that it will revive its claim to a huge swathe of the Arctic in the hope that it can secure the rights to billions of tons of oil and gas. Moscow has long seen the seabed off its northern coastline as a mine of valuable hydrocarbons and is keen to [...]

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MOSCOW – Russia has warned that it will revive its claim to a huge swathe of the Arctic in the hope that it can secure the rights to billions of tons of oil and gas. Moscow has long seen the seabed off its northern coastline as a mine of valuable hydrocarbons and is keen to fend…

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Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for Operation Inherent Resolve http://themoderatevoice.com/199974/global-war-terrorism-expeditionary-medal-operation-inherent-resolve/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199974/global-war-terrorism-expeditionary-medal-operation-inherent-resolve/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 21:28:50 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199974 As some 1,400 U.S. troops continue to provide security and advice to Iraqi government and Kurdish troops in Iraq, as Air Force and Navy pilots and crew members continue to fly hundreds of humanitarian missions over Iraq and Syria and continue to conduct airstrikes against ISIL in those two countries and while “thousands of troops” [...]

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Bayji, Iraq, operational re-supply airdrop

As some 1,400 U.S. troops continue to provide security and advice to Iraqi government and Kurdish troops in Iraq, as Air Force and Navy pilots and crew members continue to fly hundreds of humanitarian missions over Iraq and Syria and continue to conduct airstrikes against ISIL in those two countries and while “thousands of troops” are supporting those operations from various locations in the Middle East, the Defense Department (DOD) announced today that service members overseas serving in support of Operation Inherent Resolve are eligible for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.

War on Terror expeditionary Medal

The front of Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal features a shield adapted from the Great Seal of the United States. The back includes the eagle, serpent and swords from the medal’s front-side design along with the inscription “War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.” (Photo DOD)

About 8,400 service members are in the qualifying Operation Inherent Resolve area today, according to DOD.

Of course, Operation Inherent Resolve is the name given to U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorists, an operation name that applies retroactively to all U.S. military actions conducted against ISIL in Iraq and Syria since airstrikes against ISIL began Aug. 8 in Iraq.

In an October 15, 2014 press release, U.S. Central Command explained the selection of the name:

The name Inherent Resolve is intended to reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the U.S. and partner nations in the region and around the globe to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community…
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It also symbolizes the willingness and dedication of coalition members to work closely with friends in the region and apply all available dimensions of national power necessary — diplomatic, informational, military and economic — to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL…

The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal award is retroactive to June 15, when President Barack Obama ordered U.S. forces to the region in response to offensives by ISIL in Iraq.

According to a DOD press release:

The award provides immediate recognition to U.S. service members supporting efforts to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat it poses to Iraq, the region and the wider international community, Pentagon officials said.
.
In addition to Iraq, service members deployed to the Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are eligible. Those serving in the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea east of the 25th meridian and in the Persian Gulf also can receive the award.

According to the Stars and Stripes, “Until now, there was uncertainty over what medal would be awarded to troops who participate in Operation Inherent Resolve. The operation to combat Islamic State extremists who overran broad sections of Iraq this spring and summer remained unnamed for more than two months after the United States initiated airstrikes in early August.”

As to the medal itself, on February 26, 2004, DOD announced the final approval of the Global War on Terrorism Medals to “recognize the significant contributions members of the armed forces bring to bear in combating terrorism in all forms throughout the world — for both current and future operations.”

Lead photo: A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules airman checks to make sure the containers of bundles cleared the aircraft during a resupply airdrop mission over the region of Bayji, Iraq, Oct. 10, 2014 as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. (DOD photo).

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Cartoon: Obama Vampire http://themoderatevoice.com/199979/199979/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199979/199979/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 21:26:59 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199979 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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What would Republicans do? http://themoderatevoice.com/199976/republicans/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199976/republicans/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 21:20:56 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199976 WASHINGTON — No matter how well Republicans do at the polls Tuesday — and my hunch is they won’t do as well as they hope — the GOP won’t be able to claim any kind of mandate. That’s because they have refused to articulate any vision for governing. I do not celebrate this failure. I’ve [...]

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WASHINGTON — No matter how well Republicans do at the polls Tuesday — and my hunch is they won’t do as well as they hope — the GOP won’t be able to claim any kind of mandate. That’s because they have refused to articulate any vision for governing.

I do not celebrate this failure. I’ve always believed the nation’s interest is best served by competition in the marketplace of ideas. An innovative, forward-looking conservative platform would force those of us who call ourselves progressives to update and sharpen our own thinking.

Sadly, this year’s campaign has been dull and disheartening. It is a testament to the cynicism of our times that the failure of most candidates to say anything meaningful is intentional. The near-universal message isn’t “vote for me.” It’s “vote against my opponent.”

Actually, that’s not quite accurate. The dominant Republican message is an exhortation to vote against someone who’s not on any ballot: President Obama.

There’s nothing new or dishonorable about running against the policies of an unpopular president. But Republicans aren’t actually running against Obama’s policies in any meaningful way. Instead, they are conducting a campaign of atmospherics. Be afraid, they tell voters. Be unhappy. Be angry.

For the activist far right — already brimming with fear, anxiety and ire to spare — GOP candidates promise to obliterate Obama’s most significant achievement, the Affordable Care Act. This pledge has always been shamefully dishonest. Even if Republicans capture the Senate and manage to pass one of the umpteen House bills repealing all or part of Obamacare, the president will simply veto the measure. Do even the most fervent right-wingers believe Obama will ever, under any circumstances, sign legislation doing away with landmark reforms that bear his name?

Republicans talk about “repeal and replace” bit feel no obligation to elaborate on the “replace” part. If they were being honest, they would admit that the need to keep the consumer-friendly parts of Obamacare — especially the provision forbidding insurance companies to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions — would require them to enact a program that would be virtually identical, although it would surely have a different name. Maybe they’d call it “Not Obamacare.”

What else do Republicans say they would do? Nothing, really, that you can put your finger on.

They make much of the menace presented by the Islamic State and blame Obama for the jihadist group’s conquest of territory in Iraq and Syria. But what do they propose to do differently? Does anybody know?

If there is a Republican solution to the upheaval in the Middle East, we ought to know about it because Congress should have debated a measure authorizing the use of U.S. military force against the Islamic State. Instead, both houses chose to duck their constitutional responsibility. It’s much easier to complain that Obama is doing everything wrong than to take a stand on the most solemn question our elected officials can possibly face: whether to go to war.

Incredibly, Republicans have even tried to politicize the response to the Ebola outbreak. This just in: Viruses do not care one whit about party affiliation, with the possible exception of tea party fever.

I’ve noted in the past that critics yelling “stop the flights” must be unaware that there are no direct flights from the affected countries to the United States. Experts have noted that travel bans and forced quarantines will disproportionately affect returning health workers — and if they are imposed in an uninformed, bullying manner, as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie attempted to do with nurse Kaci Hickox, they can make it more difficult to contain the epidemic at its source, which is the only way Americans can be safe in the long run.

During Obama’s time in office, unemployment has fallen dramatically, millions of jobs have been created and the economy is growing. What do Republicans have to say about this record? Instead of acknowledging the obvious — and perhaps explaining how they would build on the president’s success — they change the subject. “We can do better,” they claim, without making the slightest effort to explain how.

I wish I could say that Democrats have taken the high road by presenting their own fresh ideas. I can’t. Mostly, they threaten voters with scary descriptions of what Republicans would do on social and economic issues if given more power.

We’re being asked to vote out of resentment and grim duty. So much for what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.”

Eugene Robinson’s email address is eugenerobinson@washpost.com.(c) 2014, Washington Post Writers Group

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Cartoon: Foxie Poo http://themoderatevoice.com/199973/cartoon-foxie-poo/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199973/cartoon-foxie-poo/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 21:01:56 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199973 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Bill Day, Cagle Cartoons

Bill Day, Cagle Cartoons

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Court Rules Against Quarantine of Nurse While Ebola Hysteria Leads To Lousiana Interfering With Medical Conference http://themoderatevoice.com/199968/court-rules-quarantine-nurse-ebola-hysteria-leads-lousiana-interfering-medical-conference/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199968/court-rules-quarantine-nurse-ebola-hysteria-leads-lousiana-interfering-medical-conference/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 18:52:21 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199968 The hysteria continues regarding  Ebola.  We continue to face a variety of right wing conspiracy theories. Ebola. At least we have now had some good news regarding Kaci Hickox’s fight against the unconstitutional restrictions on her civil liberties when she returned from West Africa, and I’ve heard a doctor who is returning from West Africa [...]

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The hysteria continues regarding  Ebola.  We continue to face a variety of right wing conspiracy theories. Ebola. At least we have now had some good news regarding Kaci Hickox’s fight against the unconstitutional restrictions on her civil liberties when she returned from West Africa, and I’ve heard a doctor who is returning from West Africa also plans to resist the unscientific quarantine requirements. A Maine judge has ruled against the quarantine which the governor of Maine attempted to impose.

There are many unintended consequences of imposing restrictions on those involved in treating Ebola. NPR reports on yet another counterproductive action arising from the current hysteria–preventing scientists from participating in a conference, which could interfere with the development of a disease or cure for Ebola:

Louisiana health officials say that anyone who’s been in an Ebola-affected country over the last three weeks will be quarantined in their hotel rooms.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is telling researchers who’ve recently traveled to Ebola-affected parts of West Africa that they can’t come to the society’s annual meeting. That wasn’t the medical group’s idea.

The convention opens this weekend at the New Orleans Sheraton, but the specialists with the most current experience with Ebola in the field aren’t expected to be there.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals just ruled that anyone who’s been in Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea in the past three weeks “should NOT travel to New Orleans to attend the conference.” (That big “NOT” is in the original letter.)

“While the state of Louisiana’s policies are outside of the scientific understanding of Ebola transmission — and acknowledged by the state health officials’ own admission — we recognize that the state has determined its policy in this matter,” the society said in a statement. “ASTMH does not agree with the policy as outlined by the Louisiana DHH…

Dr. Piero Olliaro had big plans for the conference.

“This is the place to be,” says Olliaro, a researcher at Oxford University who specializes in setting up clinical trials to test drugs in the developing world. “It’s once a year. This is where you get to meet all the others.”

Olliaro was going to present several papers on his recent work involving treatments for malaria and river blindness. But two weeks ago he was in Guinea for the World Health Organization scouting a site to test an experimental Ebola medication.

Yesterday Olliaro got a letter from the Louisiana health department saying that anyone who’d been in Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea in the past 21 days would be quarantined…

Olliaro, who’s in England, says the decision is unfair, unwarranted and not based on medical science. But he’ll abide by it…

Olliaro says the problem is much larger than just this one convention. The world’s leading tropical disease researchers often fly back and forth from Africa to their labs in the United States.

The new patchwork of Ebola-related travel bans and quarantine policies, he says, make it unclear whether they’ll be able to continue to do that. And that could ultimately undermine research into a vaccine or cure for this terrifying viral disease.

Update from a post at Liberal Values

Update: More on the Maine judge’s decision opposing the quarantine, and on the precautions already in effect which protect the public from Ebola without ignoring the science.

graphig via shutterstock.co

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Mike Peters Cartoon: New York and Ebola http://themoderatevoice.com/199965/mike-peters-cartoon-new-york-ebola/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199965/mike-peters-cartoon-new-york-ebola/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:22:14 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199965 OF RELATED INTEREST: –Some Travelers, Health Care Workers In NY Being Actively Monitored For Signs Of Ebola –New York doctors who help in Ebola fight will be given quarantine reimbursement, ensured employment status –CDC admits droplets from a sneeze could spread Ebola –De Blasio Takes a Businesslike Approach as Ebola Arrives in New York Mike [...]

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OF RELATED INTEREST:

Some Travelers, Health Care Workers In NY Being Actively Monitored For Signs Of Ebola
New York doctors who help in Ebola fight will be given quarantine reimbursement, ensured employment status
CDC admits droplets from a sneeze could spread Ebola
De Blasio Takes a Businesslike Approach as Ebola Arrives in New York

Mike Peters is recognized as one of our nation’s most prominent cartoon artists for his outstanding work as both a political and comic strip cartoonist. His favorite expression “WHAT A HOOT” certainly sums up his outlook on his life and work which are inexorably entwined. Mike’s warm, easygoing and zany demeanor is evidence that his personality matches his creative talents. As so eloquently phrased by a colleague — “Mike is the Peter Pan of the cartooning world; he’s boyishly charming, good with a rapier and doesn’t spend a lot of time on the ground. And he doesn’t seem to want to grow up”.

The Comic Strip Mother Goose & Grimm appears in over 800 newspapers worldwide and consistently places in the top 10 most popular ratings. Licensees distribute Grimmy products all over the world, and the Grimmy TV show continues to air in several countries. Mother Goose & Grimm is included in the Toon Lagoon theme park at Universal Studios that opened in July 1999.

This copyrighted cartoon is licensed to be run on TMV and is from his website. Reproduction elsewhere is strictly prohibited.

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Why Global Warming focus is hurting the environmentalism debate http://themoderatevoice.com/199963/global-warming-focus-hurting-environmentalism-debate/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199963/global-warming-focus-hurting-environmentalism-debate/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:03:57 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199963 Why Global Warming focus is hurting the environmentalism debate by Slamfu “You can’t reason someone out of something they were never reasoned into” – Jonathan Swift Whenever I see a piece on environmental issues these days, it seems to me that it is always couched in terms of CO2 emissions and Global Warming only. GW [...]

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shutterstock_225828538 (1)

Why Global Warming focus is hurting the environmentalism debate
by Slamfu

“You can’t reason someone out of something they were never reasoned into” – Jonathan Swift

Whenever I see a piece on environmental issues these days, it seems to me that it is always couched in terms of CO2 emissions and Global Warming only. GW is a major issue, and something I think the majority of sane people (including me) want to take action on. But those who oppose taking action have come up with a pretty solid game plan to hold things up, namely to just say “Nuh uh”. It’s been amazingly effective here in the good ole USA, and like so many other topics, the Democrats and Left swallow the hook and let the Conservatives dictate the argument. At this point the data is there, and those who don’t agree with it are doing so out of sheer stubbornness, clinging to their ideology. So why are we still trying to argue the point when it’s clear the only evidence in support of Global Warming some people will accept is a completely submerged Florida? Once the conservatives create this form of reasonable doubt in people’s minds, they seem to be able to pretty much shut down any environmental regulation or laws. When juxtaposed with some random numbers on how much it will cost to implement, along with some flimsy tale on how many jobs it will cost, spending that money to fix something that might not be a real things seems to make sense to a lot of people.

There are so many other, non-Global Warming reasons to have strong environmental regulations that are being largely ignored these days. For instance we have mercury in pretty much every piece of seafood we eat. Heavy metals are in the water supply, and approximately 13,000 people a year, just in the US, die from the byproducts of Coal energy production. Companies like Freedom Industries pollute the drinking water of 300,000 West Virginians and what exactly happens to them? Or those who were supposed to be regulating them? Well, as soon as the lawsuits started piling up they filed for Chapter 11 to limit their damages. Then:

“However, according to the Charleston Gazette, a company “whose characteristics are strikingly similar to Freedom Industries,” Lexycon LLC, registered as a business with the West Virginia secretary of state about two months after Freedom Industries filed for bankruptcy. The company is registered at the same addresses and phone numbers as the former Freedom Industries, and is founded by a former Freedom executive.”

These are all tangible problems, ones that exist TODAY, not some vague time in a future that may or may not come to pass. Even the knuckleheads siding with Big Energy on GW can’t gainsay that. Why are people so focused on trying to win the environmental debate with Global Warming when clearly the GOP has a strategy to ignore and even somehow legitimized opposition to making changes, when we have so many other tangible environmental threats that can’t be ignored? The Left needs to quit trying to win that particular argument with the holdouts. I think the quote at the top from Mr. Swift needs to be sent to those trying to fix the environment, and taken to heart. They need to quit playing the game their opponents want them to play.

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Interview with Major Todd Pierce http://themoderatevoice.com/199950/interview-major-todd-pierce/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199950/interview-major-todd-pierce/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 09:40:52 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199950 Major Todd Pierce (U.S. Army, Retired) is an attorney who served as a Judge Advocate General (J.A.G.) officer in the United States Army. In that capacity, he has served on the defense teams for two Guantanamo military commissions defendants. On October 13, 2014 I had the privilege of interviewing Maj. Pierce by telephone. What follows [...]

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You Tube image of Maj. Todd Pierce

You Tube image of Maj. Todd Pierce


Major Todd Pierce (U.S. Army, Retired) is an attorney who served as a Judge Advocate General (J.A.G.) officer in the United States Army. In that capacity, he has served on the defense teams for two Guantanamo military commissions defendants. On October 13, 2014 I had the privilege of interviewing Maj. Pierce by telephone. What follows are my interview notes, as corrected by Maj. Pierce.

The Talking Dog: The customary first question is “where were you on Sept. 11th”. In your case, I know you were on active duty (in Army Reserve command), and I know you’ve described almost the gestalt of the world changing as the day went on… can you describe that day, in terms of where you were geographically, and anything else of note– either small picture or big picture or both?

Todd Pierce: I was stationed, and on duty, at Fort Snelling, MN with the 88th U.S. Army Reserve Command in Minneapolis, MN. The Command covered 6 Midwestern states. A fellow officer came into my office and told me that a plane had hit the WTC, and we thought, like everyone else, an accident, so I continued working until he came back in again and told me of the second plane hitting and we both knew then it was a terrorist act. I was the only JAG Officer in the Headquarters for most of the day as the senior JAG officer did not come in that day until about 3:30 pm, for some reason. Shortly after the second plane hit, a staff meeting was called where we discussed what had happened, and how to harden the many reserve centers in the command. Later in the day we knew we would be mobilizing soldiers for contingencies and preparations began to be made for that.

To me, there seemed to be a bit of hysteria taking hold of some of my fellow soldiers in their response as more details came in that day along with speculation on who was responsible. It was like being on the set of Fox News, which, unfortunately, was watched by far too many officers in their offices, guaranteeing an irrational, near-hysterical response from them. I thought if that was typical, there would be an over-reaction by the U.S. in many ways that would be detrimental to our interests. On the way home, I hit a traffic jam with the traffic backed up for about 5 miles. This turned out to be due to an elderly man standing on a highway overpass waving a flag frantically. I didn’t see that as unusual under the circumstances but he was out there the rest of the week backing up traffic so that I finally complained to him. After all, I was serving my country and appreciated getting home after some long days. But it was further evidence of the hysteria that had taken hold of too many people, and we saw how President Bush, Dick Cheney, and the neocons would exploit that in the succeeding years; all to the detriment of the United States as their “strategy” was the exact opposite of how to respond to terrorism.

The Talking Dog:: As a JAG officer, you came to volunteer to defend those accused of violations of the law of war before the Guantanamo military commissions. If you can, what led you to volunteer for such service– was there anything particular in your own background that led you to do so? Please identify your clients, and their current whereabouts or dispositions (for example, we know that Mr. al-Bahlul’s address remains “Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, apparently serving life sentence”).

Todd Pierce: I have represented two prisoners as a member of teams: Ibrahim al Qosi in his Military Commission (now back ihis home country after serving an additional two years after his commission), and Ali al Bahlul in the appeal of his convictions, which is still going on, and also served as resource counsel on a third case. I explained why I volunteered an article which appeared in the National Law Journal in 2011, “Guantanamo at 10.” There, I explained that I had grown up learning about harsh and illegal treatment of prisoners who should be treated as POWs because my father was taken prisoner by the Japanese in the Philippines 4 months after the beginning of World War II and survived the Bataan Death March and then three more years of captivity under the most grueling of conditions. Though he didn’t talk about it except when I would ask questions as I got older, it was clear that he had suffered severely as a result of the Japanese violations of the International Law standards for treatment of POWs.

The Talking Dog:: Segueing over to Mr. al-Bahlul, the D.C. Circuit recently issued a broad “en banc” opinion finding that some of what al-Bahlul was charged with and convicted of [during a proceeding where the defendant stood mute] aren’t exactly “war crimes”. Can you tell me, procedurally, where Mr. al-Bahlul’s case now stands (notwithstanding Mr. Al-Bahlul’s refusal to participate in his own
defense)?

Todd Pierce: Oral argument was heard October 22nd before a panel of the D.C. Circuit. The only issue is whether conspiracy to commit terrorism is a war crime. The court has already held that material support for terrorism and solicitation to terrorism are not war crimes, so only the conviction of conspiracy remains. The government’s theory of war crimes is based on conflating martial law– military governance over occupied territory or under a declaration of martial law in domestic territory — with other aspects of the law of war, in order to try to create “war crimes.” For purposes of the commissions, if the conduct alleged is not a war crime, then the commissions have no jurisdiction to try al-Bahlul, or anyone else, for that conduct. Again, after the Hamdan II decision, inchoate crimes of “material support” and “solicitation” associated with terrorism are no longer deemed war crimes. Traditionally, war crimes were thought to include conspiracy only if it was conspiracy to commit genocide or aggressive war– conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism has never before been a basis for war crimes jurisdiction. Procedurally, the en banc D.C. Circuit acting as a whole vacated al-Bahlul’s convictions for everything except conspiracy, and that is the issue in front of the Court now. While the government concedes that conspiracy is not a war crime under International Law, they have invented a “domestic common law of war,” taken mostly from the Civil War martial law cases.

The Talking Dog:: Following up on that point, can you expand on “domestic common law of war,” and tie it to something you said that to me is the most succinct shorthand for developments in law these last dozen years: “national security law = martial law”? Please spend as much, or as little, time as
necessary with Civil War precedents as a basis for these developments (though David Addington and John Yoo and the gang would have presumably gone to Hundred Years War or Peloponnesian War or Storage Wars if necessary to bring about Dick Cheney’s dream of a shining interrogation center on a hill), as well as discussing “we’re all Cheneyites now”.

Todd Pierce: The government is indeed relying on a conflation of the law of war and theapplication of martial law in the Northern states during the Civil War. Taking those cases as precedents, even though they only applied in U.S. Union territory under the declarations of martial law in certain areas of the North and then throughout the North with Lincoln’s declaration of martial law in September 1862, the U.S. government is essentially asserting they can exercise martial law throughout the world. It has to be noted that in the Civil War, martial law was only declared for the Union States, not the Confederates as the Confederates were treated as combatants and received belligerent rights so that they were not prosecuted even for killing Union soldiers.

But what the U.S. government has been doing since John Yoo and his cohorts invented the scheme is to constantly assert that we “are at war,” and therefore the President, as Commander in Chief, has virtual powers of a dictator under the law of war, to which martial law is a branch of. The apparent contention is that we don’t need a declaration of martial law, because a state of war in any non-constitutional country IS effectively a state of martial law. Of course, our Constitution prevents this. And so, the architects of the war on terror’s legal paradigm go back to the era of Lincoln and the Civil War, when, of course, the nation did face a genuine existential threat. Martial law was actually declared in September 1862 specifically to suppress “ disloyal acts” in the North, which primarily was “speech” and as a result, military commanders had broad authority to pick up what they believed to be pro-Confederate sympathizers, with detention authority and trial by “drumhead courts,” military commissions. This is what government officials, such as Military Commissions Chief Prosecutor Brig. Gen. Mark Martins proudly hale as part of our legal traditions, even though they were thoroughly repudiated immediately after the Civil War by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Ex Parte Milligan case.

The new danger is that the “domestic common law of war” has creeped into our overall statutory scheme: we now have Section 1021 which actually permits domestic military detention of persons, not excluding American citizens, merely suspected of “supporting” terrorism, without Bill of Rights protections. It has not been implemented, but we know, as a result of the position taken by the government in Hedges v. Obama that, under this provision, even a journalist such as Chris Hedges could find himself subject to military detention. This has introduced a degree of martial law into the ordinary course of daily life; it is very dangerous, and we do not know how it will play out. Certainly, Barack Obama has not used this provision for the purpose of detaining citizens (or journalists) for speech, but his Administration has asserted the right to do it, and we certainly have no idea how a future President would use these provisions.

The Talking Dog:: Please discuss the revelations of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and/or Julian Assange– particularly in the context of law of war issues and the other items we’ve been discussing, and tell me, please, how a democracy can function when the government operates in secrecy?

Todd Pierce: The simple answer to that question is, it can’t. Without the people’s right to know, there is no meaningful democracy. The people under our Constitutional system as the ultimate sovereign cannot operate without critical information as to what their government is up to. Indeed, they cannot even make a meaningful judgment as to electing candidate A vs. candidate B when they have no access to real information. We just do not end up with a meaningful democracy without meaningful information that isn’t classified!

Snowden, Assange, Manning– all did a great service to this country. Going back to Vietnam, we have learned that our military leaders are not all-wise. Even an ultra-conservative like the American James Burnham understood this in recognizing that the World War II Germans had entrusted all information and decision making in the hands of a few individuals, all having only a military background as far as leadership, and who had internalized that way of thinking. With that background, too often they are incapable of thinking more broadly beyond just achieving an immediate military objective, with inevitable victory to follow in their eyes. Unfortunately, we have been giving virtually unfettered discretion to similar minded militarists, such as when President Obama acceded to demands by Generals Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus, and former military officers John McCain and Lindsay Graham, when they called for surges in troop numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan, making matters worse. We are getting an idea of just how much the government and the military are trying to keep secret. This amounts to a dereliction of duty in a democracy by both our political and military leaders, and it ends up being to the detriment of the conduct of the war against terrorism, and redounds to the benefit of our enemies. The Constitution is our greatest strength– not a weakness- and it gives we the people the absolutely right to know what we need to know to make meaningful democratic decisions, especially vital issues of how to conduct foreign policy, contrary to John Yoo’s and Dick Cheney’s claims.

The Talking Dog:: Anwar al-Awlaki… please discuss, particularly in the context of law of war issues and the other items we’ve been discussing (feel free to also discuss my college classmate Barack’s handling of legal issues associated with what used to be called “the war on terror”).

Todd Pierce: The government will not reveal the information associated with the decision to kill Mr. al-Awlaki, or its legal rationale for doing so, except a heavily redacted version. We know that they have determined that they can target “operational leaders” of al Qaeda, and they have said al-Awlaki was designated as an operational leader, but we have to take everything that the military says with a grain of salt as its their policy to dissemble. It may seem to be funny to start characterizing a propagandist like al-Awlaki as an “operational leader.” But under the expansive meaning of “belligerency,” even propaganda amounting only to opinions contrary to U.S. policy can result in elevation to “operational leader” status and then personal targeting, which is similar to what was done under the Phoenix Program of assassination during the Vietnam War.

Once again, this is based on an expansive reading of military law precedent from the martial law context during the Civil War. Then, newspapermen, publishers, even just outspoken persons with opinions, who might “say something embarrassing about the army”– might end up being designated as “operational leaders” because their speech could “discourage enlistments”—an arguably hostile act!

I wrote about this in the context of Vietnam era generals… their ridiculous contentions that “discouraging speech” could serve to result in a loss of national will to fight. This is precisely the logic employed by Germany in the 1930′s and 1940′s, and used in their infamous “people’s courts” and “special courts” and similar structures. “War treason” was found to be anything embarrassing to the regime.

Troublingly, it appears we have adopted similar legal forms as Nazi Germany for these principles. A German Jewish lawyer named Ernst Fraenkel, in a book called The Dual State, observed that martial law was the constitution of the Third Reich (he was writing in the late 1930′s, before the full brunt of the Holocaust and World War II had taken place). He analyzed the legal forms of the Third Reich as a prerogative state, which coexisted (albeit in a superior position) with the normative state. The prerogative state under der Fuhrer is, of course, martial law, or as our Supreme Court once called it: Martial Rule. Under Section 1021 of the NDAA, we have a degree of martial law baked into our system now. Of course, the Supreme Court’s case of ex parte Milligan rolled back the martial law of the Civil War, after it ended. Indeed, much of the conduct of Union Authorities during the Civil War violated the Constitution. But that was the one period of our history when there was an existential threat to the continuing existence of the U.S. as it was then known, unlike today.

The concept of the President as commander in chief with unlimited war powers is what amounts to a prerogative state as are any authoritarian states in history and was revived from that very brief and repudiated Civil War period by by legal authoritarian John Yoo and the Bush legal team; their notion that the President has unfettered dictatorial powers is obviously wrong– but it is shoving its way into legal doctrine still under the Obama legal team with opinions such as the Drone memo.

The Talking Dog:: Can you tell me how your Guantanamo commission representation has effected you personally, professionally, ethically or any other way you’d like to discuss?

Todd Pierce: For me, working on these cases has revealed just how dangerous the government’s positions are. I have been outspoken in trying to “out” the government’s contentions, and in arguing as to why we should not be follow this tack. Second, the government’s position actually puts us in greater danger. Our leaders are guessing– they actually do not know what they are doing. But as a result of these policies– attack everyone, anywhere based on any perception of threat– huge wealth transfers in favor of the military industrial complex (and allied corrupt foreign leaders) have taken place. And so, I am trying to become even more outspoken. Through getting together with others (like our friend Andy Worthington); and trying to form groups involved in upholding the rule of law.

The Talking Dog:: Do you have a prediction for, say, five years out from now, and ten years out from now? Presumably, the Afghan war will technically be long over… other than the “high value” detainee commission trials still not being finished, do you have any other predictions for the Guantanamo project?

Todd Pierce: We have to acknowledge that our government contains genuine authoritarian militarists. Sure, there are the McCains and Grahams, but there is also the Hillary Clinton wing of the Democratic Party. We have Leon Panetta, the former Defense Secretary, telling us that he anticipate that the wars coming up will entail thirty years of fighting! It is amazing that someone can look forward into the future and suggest exactly how long a war will last… But of course, if we plan on occupying so many countries, this is what happens.

The “Pentagon’s New Map” lays out the world into core countries, meaning the United States and allies Western Europe– and then we would everything else into
categories of the periphery, and then police the rest of the world. Of course, there might be some rebellion from this arrangement! As I’ve written before, we’re all Cheneyites now– the whole world is now subject to our military domination. We have actually decided to define rebellion against U.S. occupation as terrorism. (Another definition, of course, might be “blowback” as Chalmers
Johnson defined it
).

So when Panetta says we will be at war for thirty years, it means we will be looking for places to intervene, resulting in yet more “terrorism” resulting in yet more war. It will end catastrophically both constitutionally and financially.

In that context, Guantanamo is an ideal detention facility for authoritarians! Island prisons have historically been favored for this purpose. Bagram is working out to be another… the United States is now taking other prisoners from all over the world to Bagram– in the middle of a war zone! At this point, extra-legal “courts” and military detention apparatuses are now firmly in place. How far will this goes? It’s anybody’s guess. It will continue to erode our basic protections, and, if unchecked, will bring about an end to our constitutional system (except for what Fraenkel would call “the normative state”– things like routine divorces, property conveyances and the like), while the “prerogative state” swallows everything else, in gross violation of both our Constitution and international law.

The Talking Dog:: Please comment on the recent machinations re: “the Islamic State” (ISIS, ISIL, or whatever you want to call it) in the context of issues we have been discussing, particularly ournation’s apparent predilection to try to occupy every other country on Earth.

Todd Pierce: That’s just it– our response to ISIS appears to be part of our need to occupy everything everywhere! Our fingers are still all over Iraq! While Obama is accused of having a failed policy for withdrawing troops from Iraq, all he did was what Bush had previously agreed to do.

At a book signing by Thomas Ricks after he had exalted Petraeus for an hour, Ricks immediately conceded the surge had been a failure, agreeing with an audience member (me) that it was a failure because there was no reconciliation reached among the parties already there. And so we have a fiction about “success” in Iraq, but all American policies led to the creation of ISIS, beginning with the American invasion of Iraq, and actually before with the years of sanctions on Iraq which Madeline Albright admits killed at least 500,000 Iraqi children.

Now, of course, ISIL is being used as a pretext to go back in! This, of course, will only accelerate disaster.

And as we ramp up, ISIS gets stronger, because demonizing of that group by the United States is an effective combat multiplier for them, as we go into a new war! ISIL is clearly willing to have this fight– and our demonizing only bolsters the position of those who see the United States as the cause of the problems over there and seeing ISIS as willing to confront American imperialism.

The Iraq war has been called the greatest strategic blunder in American history– by General William Odom! General Odom was once Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and seems to have been the last high ranking American General who understood real strategic interests and not confusing them with immediate, transitory tactical interests which always call for another war. Obama compounded the disaster by adopting Bush’s policy of trying to topple regimes we didn’t like. General Wesley Clark told us that the Bush Administration was planning exactly that- to topple regimes– and it was their intent to do so all along. So, this is what we’ve been doing– the line is continuous– Iraq, Libya, now a try for Syria… this led directly to the birth of ISIL, at the behest of Obama in trying to take out Assad, we created ISIL ourselves! The quandary of course, is that we’re now facing the inevitable blowback that this kind of activity creates. The more of it we do, the more we ultimately lose. Right now, giving up some of our “control” would be the best policy… instead we’re trying to find a “fix” that amounts to more of same.

The Talking Dog:: Anything else I should have asked you but didn’t, or anything else you believe needs to be discussed on these issues?

Todd Pierce: As a military officer, the oath I took was not to the country, or to the President. It was to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Indeed, to defend this nation is to defend the Constitution as that has been shown to be our greatest strength in permitting dissent to government policy which has so often been misguided. This is particularly true during wartime, especially a feigned war as is the present. Americans had better take an interest in how their Constitution is being eroded before their eyes, or it will inure to all of our detriment. The people must demand a genuine rule of law, and end to these continuing wars and their ongoing subversion of the Constitution. It damages all of us and diminishes national security, paradoxically.

The Talking Dog: I join all of my readers in thanking Major Todd Pierce for that fascinating and informative interview.

Readers interested in legal issues and related matters associated with the “war on terror” may also find talking dog blog interviews with former Guantanamo military commissions prosecutors Morris Davis and Darrel Vandeveld, with former Guantanamo combatant status review tribunal/”OARDEC” officer Stephen Abraham, with attorneys David Marshall, Jan Kitchel, Eric Lewis, Cori Crider, Michael Mone, Matt O’Hara, Carlos Warner, Matthew Melewski, Stewart “Buz” Eisenberg, Patricia Bronte, Kristine Huskey, Ellen Lubell, Ramzi Kassem, George Clarke, Buz Eisenberg, Steven Wax, Wells Dixon, Rebecca Dick, Wesley Powell, Martha Rayner, Angela Campbell, Stephen Truitt and Charles Carpenter, Gaillard Hunt, Robert Rachlin, Tina Foster, Brent Mickum, Marc Falkoff H. Candace Gorman, Eric Freedman, Michael Ratner, Thomas Wilner, Jonathan Hafetz, Joshua Denbeaux, Rick Wilson,
Neal Katyal, Joshua Colangelo Bryan, Baher Azmy, and Joshua Dratel (representing Guantanamo detainees and others held in “the war on terror”), with attorneys Donna Newman and Andrew Patel (representing “unlawful combatant” Jose Padilila), with Dr. David Nicholl, who spearheaded an effort among international physicians protesting force-feeding of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, with physician and bioethicist Dr. Steven Miles on medical complicity in torture, with law professor and former Clinton Administration Ambassador-at-large for war crimes matters David Scheffer, with former Guantanamo detainees Moazzam Begg and Shafiq Rasul , with former Guantanamo Bay Chaplain James Yee, with former Guantanamo Army Arabic linguist Erik Saar, with former Guantanamo military guard Terry Holdbrooks, Jr., with former military interrogator Matthew Alexander, with law professor and former Army J.A.G. officer Jeffrey Addicott, with law professor and Coast Guard officer Glenn Sulmasy, with author and geographer Trevor Paglen and with author and journalist Stephen Grey on the subject of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, with journalist and author David Rose on Guantanamo, with journalist Michael Otterman on the subject of American torture and related issues, with author and historian Andy Worthington detailing the capture and provenance of all of the Guantanamo detainees, with law professor Peter Honigsberg on various aspects of detention policy in the war on terror, with Joanne Mariner of Human Rights Watch, with Almerindo Ojeda of the Guantanamo Testimonials Project, with Karen Greenberg, author of The LeastWorst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days, with Charles Gittings of the Project to Enforce the Geneva Conventions, Laurel Fletcher, author of “The Guantanamo Effect” documenting the experience of Guantanamo detainees after their release, and with John Hickman, author of “Selling Guantanamo,” critiquing the official narrative surrounding Guantanamo, to be of interest.

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Solar Power http://themoderatevoice.com/199952/solar-power-2/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199952/solar-power-2/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 09:29:43 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199952 Some good news both on the economic and environmental front, Oregon’s SolarWorld is expanding production. SolarWorld Industries America Inc. will add 200 jobs in Hillsboro as it ramps up manufacturing to meet growing U.S. demand, company executives announced Thursday. The company will expand both its cell and module production capacity in early 2015, making $10 million in [...]

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[poj[ij[ij'opij[poihpiougiufitf

Some good news both on the economic and environmental front, Oregon’s SolarWorld is expanding production.

SolarWorld Industries America Inc. will add 200 jobs in Hillsboro as it ramps up manufacturing to meet growing U.S. demand, company executives announced Thursday.

The company will expand both its cell and module production capacity in early 2015, making $10 million in investments in Hillsboro, said Mukesh Dulani, SolarWorld’s U.S. president.

Solar Power has now reached parity with coal even in the cloudy and rainy Pacific Northwest much to the dismay of big coal.

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Cartoon: The Scream (Political Version) http://themoderatevoice.com/199948/cartoon-scream-political-version/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199948/cartoon-scream-political-version/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 08:30:35 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199948 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1893


See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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O’Keefe Hoist by his own Petard? http://themoderatevoice.com/199946/okeefe-hoist-petard/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199946/okeefe-hoist-petard/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 01:28:56 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199946 Remember Eric O’Keefe?  You know, from my Wisconsin series*? And my Howie Rich series*? And from the Sam Adams Alliance’s role in the genesis of the Tea Party*, and, finally in possible collusion with Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker, something called the The John Doe Investigation*; thence the high-powered Washington D.C. law firm, the countersuit in [...]

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Remember Eric O’Keefe?  You know, from my Wisconsin series*? And my Howie Rich series*? And from the Sam Adams Alliance’s role in the genesis of the Tea Party*, and, finally in possible collusion with Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker, something called the The John Doe Investigation*; thence the high-powered Washington D.C. law firm, the countersuit in Federal court that stopped the investigation and left the prosecutors PERSONALLY liable in civil court?

To wit:

Complaint: Wisconsin Club for Growth violated IRS rules
October 28, 2014 6:30 am
By Matthew DeFour | Wisconsin State Journal

EricOKEEFE

[A liberal group has asked the IRS to investigate
Wisconsin Club for Growth and its director
Eric O'Keefe.] caption
photo from O’Keefe’ s webpage

It’s straight out of Dostoevsky:

A conservative group at the center of a John Doe investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 recall campaign should be prosecuted for violating Internal Revenue Service laws and have its tax-exempt status revoked, according to a complaint filed Monday by the liberal Center for Media and Democracy.

The Wisconsin Club for Growth filed as a tax-exempt 501(c)4 “social welfare” organization in 2011 and 2012, telling the IRS that it spent $0 for political purposes.

But according to the complaint, Club for Growth spent almost all of the more than $20 million it raised to help elect Republican candidates in the Wisconsin Senate and gubernatorial recall elections.

Andrew Grossman, a lawyer for Club for Growth, chided the liberal center for “trying to silence political speech.”

“If they want to waste their money on filing a frivolous complaint for a blip of news coverage, that’s their business,” Grossman said. “The Wisconsin Club for Growth is proud of its record of speaking out on the issues that matter to Wisconsin.”

As evidence, the complaint presents documents accidentally made public as part of a federal lawsuit Club for Growth and director Eric O’Keefe filed against the John Doe prosecutors….

Um, whoops.

spider-in-web1

Here is a more detailed explanation from the filed complaint:

… according to documents made public in the course of a state criminal investigation, WiCFG allegedly coordinated many of those communications with candidates for elective office and state political party leaders.

We believe the evidence demonstrates that WiCFG misled the IRS by claiming to have spent $0 on political campaign activities in 2011 and 2012, when it actually spent millions on such activities.

In addition to misleading the IRS as to its expenditures on political campaign activities in 2011 and 2012, WiCFG engaged in such a degree of political intervention during those years that all facts and circumstances suggest it was primarily engaged in non”exempt political activities, and thus ineligible for 501(c)(4) tax”exempt status. Section 501(c)(4) organizations are required to primarily engage in the promotion of social welfare; these organizations cannot engage in more than an insubstantial amount of non” exempt activity, such as direct or indirect political intervention.

WiCFG spent an estimated $9.1 million in connection with Wisconsin’s 2011 and 2012 recall elections, and funneled at least $9,624,000 to other groups – some of which were controlled by WiCFG’s leaders “” that spent those funds on political campaign ads. This amounts to almost all of WiCFG’s $20 million in total expenditures in 2011 and 2012

Wisc Club for Growth INC 990 for 2009 p. 17

2009 Club for Growth payments to Chris Kliesmet’s organization.

According to an Enrolled Agent (tax representative) I have consulted on this, the penalty for being found in violation is revocation of tax exempt status, RETROACTIVELY, and payment of ALL taxes owed by the now NOT FINANCED ON THE TAXPAYER’S DIME supposed “civic league.”

And notice the thuggish tone of Wisconsin Club for Growth’s D.C. lawyer?

It’s not an aberration in this operation.

spider-not-in-web

This year, they went after judges, including four of the sitting Wisconsin Supreme Court judges who will ultimately decide on the “John Doe” investigation that is now no longer banned. A three-judge panel of Seventh Circuit overturned the initial victory for O’Keefe, et al, and then refused to hear the appeal en banc.

Their reasoning was that the Republican-anointed federal judge who heard the initial case didn’t have jurisdiction, and even had he, he’d jumped the gun by not allowing the Wisconsin courts to make the finding that his opinion asserts they made.

Wisconsin CFG BOD 2009

Wisconsin Club for Growth board of directors, 2009

Whoops.

But in the course of this attempt to stifle a criminal investigation into O’Keefe’s dark money, O’Keefe, et al, let the cat out of the bag as far as “tax exempt” status is concerned.

Had the case NOT been filed, it is doubtful that the documents in question would have become public knowledge AND have established that Wisconsin Club for Growth spent ALL its money on political activity, which is prohibited by federal law.

elephant-on-spiderweb

Well, as we know from fiction, and which seems to have been taken originally from real life, the problem that alleged crooks have when allegedly committing evil, as allegedly Eric O’Keefe has, is that the alleged evil always allegedly does itself in.

Why this is, is a matter of widespread philosophical debate, but, to paraphrase the I Ching, written back in the BC(E) days, evil, having nothing good left to destroy, destroys itself, because that is its nature and nothing is spared in the end, not even itself.

Oh what wicked webs we weave …

A special vorpal hat tip to eagle-eyed reader angelo ferrara (sic) for the tip.

hiroshima and nagasaki

Large, nuclear petards blew open the doors to Japan.

And a “petard” was a shaped explosive charge for blowing open doors. Sometimes, the demolitions fellow (the petard goes back to the 1500s) would end up blowing himself up, thus the old phrase “hoist by one’s own petard”, “hoist” meaning “blown upwards,” as in ‘Oh, the gate was blown open, all right, but in this case, it was the Pearly Gate.’

More @ Wikipedia: petard.

shutterstock_nuke

Petard gone bad. Real bad.

Courage.

* NOTE: After a ten year run — from the day after the 2004 election to the day after the 2014 election, his vorpal sword in all incarnations will end on Wednesday, November 5, 2014. So if you want to read the series, better do it now. Click on the tags for “Eric O’Keefe” and “Howie Rich gang” for dozens and dozens of articles. — HW
========================

 Mr. Williams has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.

 

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Peak Water http://themoderatevoice.com/199944/peak-water-2/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199944/peak-water-2/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 20:53:26 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199944 For several years we have been hearing about Peak Oil but a greater threat to the human race is Peak Water.  We have heard about the drought and water shortages in California but that state is not unique. The Central Valley boasts some of the globe’s fastest-depleting aquifers—but by no means the fastest overall. Indeed, [...]

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For several years we have been hearing about Peak Oil but a greater threat to the human race is Peak Water.  We have heard about the drought and water shortages in California but that state is not unique.

Aqifers

The Central Valley boasts some of the globe’s fastest-depleting aquifers—but by no means the fastest overall. Indeed, it has a rival here in the United States. The below[above] graphic represents depletion rates at some of the globe’s largest aquifers, nearly all of which Famiglietti notes, “underlie the world’s great agricultural regions and are primarily responsible for their high productivity.”

The navy-blue line represents the Ogallala aquifer—a magnificent water resource now being sucked dry to grow corn in the US high plains. Note that it has quietly dropped nearly as much as the Central Valley’s aquifers (yellow line) over the past decade. The plunging light-blue line represents the falling water table in Punjab, India’s breadbasket and the main site of that irrigation-intensive agricultural “miracle” known as the Green Revolution, which industrialized the region’s farm fields starting in the 1960s. The light-green line represents China’s key growing region, the north plain. Its relatively gentle fall may look comforting, but the water table there has been dropping steadily for years.

As noted this is not just an issue of water but food.  As the article notes the result will be people starving and social unrest.  This makes Peak Oil seem almost immaterial.  We can live without oil but not without water and food.  Of course this means that in addition to Peak Oil and Peak Water we have also reached Peak People.

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More voting fraud FUD, a researcher backtracks, and surprising facts about suffrage http://themoderatevoice.com/199938/voter-fraud-fud-gop/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199938/voter-fraud-fud-gop/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:53:17 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199938 As I reported earlier this week, forcing voters to show a photo ID at the polls is a GOP boogyman, a “solution” to a non-existent problem. Now comes two researchers — Jesse Richman and David Earnest — from Old Dominion University, who claim that “6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of [...]

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As I reported earlier this week, forcing voters to show a photo ID at the polls is a GOP boogyman, a “solution” to a non-existent problem.

Now comes two researchers — Jesse Richman and David Earnest — from Old Dominion University, who claim that “6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.” Their Washington Post blog post has more than 3,300 comments, has sparked a cottage industry in conservative media inflammatory headlines, and has extensive criticism from political science academics.

And a significant concession from one of the research authors.

Researcher agrees that truthiness is MIA

Mark Robison writes a fact-checking column at the Reno Gazette. He reviewed the claims made in “Could non-citizens decide the November election?, published in the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage political-science research blog.

Robison concluded:

[I]t’s a lone study on a controversial subject with data that even the authors admit is not ideal. It’s fodder for discussion but not for fears of election fraud.
 
Truth meter: 4 (out of 10)

And then study author Richman replied, agreeing with the 4-out-of-10 truth meter assessment.

Reno Gazette quote

“We agree with your rating of a ’4′ because:

“A. Noncitizen voting might tip one or two extremely close races but is unlikely to tip the balance in the Senate, and certainly not in the House.

“B. Science is a process of finding, validation, replication and rebuttal. We are at the very beginning of the process. Colleagues have raised reasonable questions about the data we used–problems that we acknowledge in both the study and the Monkey Cage. It will take some time and additional research to increase confidence in our findings.”

Conservative media field day

The research, slated for publication in the journal Electoral Studies, led to a flurry of conservative media siren songs: Voting by Non-Citizens Tips Balance for Democrats (Breitbart); Here comes the 2014 voter fraud (WSJ); Report: Non-Citizens’ Votes Could Affect Senate Race (NewsMax); and Non-Citizens Are Voting (NRO).

Let’s unpack those study claims

The researchers are extrapolating from the 2008 and 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), which uses people who have opted-in to an online survey platform as a basis for fashioning a pool of answers that “matches” a representative population sample.

That representative sample contained about 1 percent in each survey who identified themselves as non-citizen immigrants (339 in 2008, 489 in 2010). The researchers then estimate how many non-citizens voted. Note: the percentages appear disarmingly large — they actually represent the percent of the 1 percent of the total respondents, so move that “dot” two places to the left: 11.3% is actually only 0.113% of the total study.

Do non-citizens vote in U.S. elections?

Reed College Professor Paul Gronke “expressed concerns” about the study and Washington Post summary due in part to the “number of very heroic assumptions [needed] to be able to claim that non-citizens were voting in significant numbers.”

Also at the Washington Post Monkey Cage, Brown University political scientist Michael Tesler criticized the researcher’s methodology:

The 2008 and 2010 CCES surveyed large opt-in Internet samples constructed by the polling firm YouGov to be nationally representative of the adult citizen population. Consequently, the assumption that non-citizens, who volunteered to take online surveys administered in English about American politics, would somehow be representative of the entire non-citizen population seems tenuous at best (emphasis added).

And ..

[Theh authors] were only able to validate the votes of five respondents who claimed to be non-citizen voters in the 2008 CCES.

The most interesting factoid overshadowed by conservative media headlines

During the 1800s, non-citizens had the right to vote in the United States in at least 22 states and territories. At the beginning of the 20th century, that number had dwindled to 11 states.

In 1874, the Supreme Court ruled that male-only suffrage was unconstitutional and noted that citizenship was not a prerequisite for suffrage.

Male non-citizens could vote but female citizens could not?

It is contended that the provisions of the constitution and laws of the State of Missouri which confine the right of suffrage and registration therefor to men, are in violation of the Constitution of the United States, and therefore void.

And…

[C]itizenship has not in all cases been made a condition precedent to the enjoyment of the right of suffrage. Thus, in Missouri, persons of foreign birth, who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, may under certain circumstances vote. The same provision is to be found in the constitutions of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and Texas.

Raise your hand if you knew this. I sure as hell didn’t.

Who is YouGov?

YouGov conducted the CCES on behalf of a consortium of U.S. political science researchers. It is an international market research company headquartered in the UK with offices around the world, including the U.S. Co-founder and former CEO Nadhim Zahawi is now a “British Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Stratford-on-Avon since 2010.” Co-founder and current YouGov CEO Stephan Shakespeare (birth name, Stephan Kukowski) is also a conservative British politician.

Can voter ID laws “fix” this problem, assuming it exists?

In a word, no. Voter ID laws are designed to prevent someone from impersonating another person at the polls. Laws that require a voter to show an ID to vote do nothing to prevent a non-citizen from getting on the voter registration rolls.

Should non-citizens be allowed to vote?

In local elections, state elections, federal elections?

If they are in the process of obtaining citizenship?

It’s not prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

It may come as a surprise to learn that “several municipalities … currently allow non-citizens to vote in local elections.” Moreover, “65 countries, on 6 continents, have provisions granting the exercise of some voting rights to foreigners and/or for certain categories of foreign residents.”

What do you think?

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The ‘Ebola Conspiracy’ — A View From the Beach http://themoderatevoice.com/199939/view-beach/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199939/view-beach/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:18:43 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199939 It takes a lot to get my butt (my fat butt, some would say) off a lounge chair overlooking the gorgeous turquoise Caribbean, into our villa and onto my keyboard. But conservative radio show hostess Laura Ingraham has now earned that dubious distinction. Part of the “honor” goes to my wife, lounging next to me [...]

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View from the beach

It takes a lot to get my butt (my fat butt, some would say) off a lounge chair overlooking the gorgeous turquoise Caribbean, into our villa and onto my keyboard.

But conservative radio show hostess Laura Ingraham has now earned that dubious distinction.

Part of the “honor” goes to my wife, lounging next to me and listening on her IPad to the latest nonsense spouted by Ms. Ingraham.

She let me listen.

Most likely referring to Ebola, the deadly virus that has already sickened more than 13,000 people and killed nearly 5,000, and definitely pointing at the President, Ingraham says on her radio show, “We have now diseases coming into this country that we haven’t had to deal with in a long time – all because we have Barack Obama as president.”

Naturally, I was incensed about such an ugly, unfounded accusation.

Having been out of country — “Ebola Country” according to many Republicans — I had not heard or read the endless litany of similar accusations by conservative commentators, pundits and politicians against the president — pretty much indicting him for “bringing Ebola to the United States.”

However, I had heard Ingraham on two previous occasions make use of the Ebola tragedy to attack the President.

Back in September, when the President decided to send U.S. military personnel to West Africa to help control the disease, Ingraham coldheartedly and outrageously declared:

[T]he military is just another tool in his arsenal to level the playing field, right? I mean, in other words, Africa really deserves more of America’s money because we’re people of privilege. We’re people of great privilege, so we should do what we can, we the American taxpayers, to transfer wealth over to Africa. It’s his father’s rage against colonialism, as Dinesh D’Souza wrote about, and maybe this is a way to continue to atone for that.
.
[...]
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If a few American military personnel have to be exposed to the Ebola virus to carry out this redistribution of the privileged’s wealth, then so be it.

Also, attacking Obama’s decision not to put in place a travel ban for West African countries affected by Ebola, she blamed the decision on his “core ties” to Africa:

“I believe with this failure to stop these planes from coming in from Sierra Leone I think there could be politics involved in that to Obama familial connection with Africa he has an enormous amount of, I think, core ties to the African continent. He’s mindful of his own family history there,” and added “Come on its doesn’t make any sense to not stop those flights from coming here.”

Before focusing my indignation solely on Ms. Ingraham, I decided to do some research to see how many others had made such outlandish accusations.

Lo and behold, there is a virtual deluge of accusations, conspiracy theories and just plain trash that makes Ingraham’s already vile statements look like a Sunday School psalm.

Bear in mind that while I have opinions as to what measures and precautions should be taken to contain the Ebola disease, I am not an expert and will therefore not pass judgment on their merits or deficiencies. Furthermore, while I find it irresponsible for people in the public eye with no scientific or medical expertise to render uninformed opinions on such issues of life and death, I find it deplorable for them to turn the crisis into political fodder, to use it to spread misinformation, to create fear and hysteria and, ultimately, to denigrate and try to destroy a President they hate.

There are a couple of authors who have done the legwork in compiling such outbursts and “crazy conspiracy theories about Ebola that conservatives actually believe,” expressed by “people who really have no business sounding off on Ebola [and]should really shut up about [it].” They are, respectively, Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch and Sara Boboltz at the Huffington Post.

Featured prominently in both lists are Ingraham and, of course, Rush Limbaugh.

Then there are the “usual suspects”: Glenn Beck, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee; politicians such as Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) and Steve Stockman (R-Texas); commentators Keith Ablow and Larry Klayman; entertainers Morgan Brittany and Chris Brown and Religious Right figures who “are responding to the Ebola epidemic by suggesting that it is divine punishment on America” — the same people who will blame every tragedy and disaster on the gay community, and are doing so again with the Ebola epidemic.

Here are some representative excerpts from Right Wing Watch, listed under one of “five of the most common conspiracy theories that conservative commentators and their Republican allies are pushing about Ebola:”



1. Obama Will Bring Ebola To The U.S. Through The Southern Border

Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., said in July that he had heard “reports” of undocumented immigrants infected with the Ebola virus coming into the U.S. through the southern border. When asked about these “reports” by journalists, Gingrey admitted that they did not actually exist. Indiana GOP Rep. Todd Rokita similarly warned that undocumented minors from Central America could represent a threat “from a public-health standpoint, with Ebola circulating and everything else.”

2. Obama Will Bring Ebola To The U.S. In Order To Impose Martial Law

Rep. Steve Stockman, Republican of Texas, said this month that Obama has laid the groundwork to use “emergency powers to take over control of the economy and everything” and speculated that the president might intentionally slow the government response to Ebola in order to create a crisis situation that he could then exploit.

3. Obama Will Bring Ebola Outbreak To The U.S. To Help His ‘African Brothers’

Conservatives frequently insist that none of their criticism of Obama has anything to do with race, and more than a handful have claimed that the president’s handling of the Ebola outbreak proves that he is the real racist.

Conservative columnist and Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman cited Obama’s response to the Ebola outbreak as proof that he favors “his African brothers, putting the interests of fellow blacks, with whom he feels a kinship, ahead of others.”

“Obama has favored his African brothers over the rest of us by allowing them free entry into this country,” Klayman wrote in another column. “As a result, Ebola has now been introduced into the United States, may be on the verge of spreading rapidly, with the end result being potential massive death to our citizenry.”

“Regrettably our Muslim commander in chief has favored his own creed over the rest of us,” he added.

Rush Limbaugh argued that “leftist” elected officials believe that Ebola “is ultimately traced back to us; because of our slavery, we kind of deserve a little bit of this.”

4. Obama Will Bring Ebola Outbreak To The U.S. Because He Hates America

Fox News commentator Keith Ablow speculated this month that “the president may literally believe we should suffer along with less fortunate nations,” arguing that Obama wants Americans to experience an Ebola epidemic out of a sense of “fairness” since he thinks the American people have “been a scourge on the face of the Earth.”

“We don’t have a president who has the American people as his primary interest,” Ablow said. “We’re not even voting for somebody who likes us. This guy, who has names very similar to two of our archenemies, Osama, well, Obama. And Hussein. Hussein.”


5. Ebola Is God’s Judgment On America (Especially Obama)

The televangelist John Hagee said this month that Ebola is a sign of God’s disapproval of Obama’s foreign policy in the Mideast.

“Our president is dead-set on dividing Jerusalem. God is watching and he will bring America into judgment,” he said, and as a result “we are now experiencing the crisis of Ebola.”

Ron Baity, a North Carolina pastor who worked with the Family Research Council and other anti-gay groups to pass a marriage equality ban, blamed Ebola on the gay community.

“We are bringing the judgment of God on this nation,” Baity said. “As sure as Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed, don’t be surprised at the plagues, don’t be surprised at the judgment of God. You think Ebola is bad now? Just wait.”

Read more conservative pearls of wisdom here.

After reading all this insanity, I ask myself the same question Michael Tomasky asks at The Daily Beast, “How Can Dems Be Losing to These Idiots?

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Kaci Hickox Is A Hero–Now On Two Counts http://themoderatevoice.com/199932/kaci-hickox-hero-now-two-counts/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199932/kaci-hickox-hero-now-two-counts/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:40:55 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199932 Kaci Hickox is a hero. First for volunteering to help treat Ebola patients, as eradicating Ebola in West Africa is the only way to handle this disease. She became a hero again for standing up to unjust restrictions upon her civil liberties upon returning home and supporting the concept of making political decisions based upon [...]

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Kaci Hickox as seen on NBC's The Today Show

Kaci Hickox as seen on NBC’s The Today Show

Kaci Hickox is a hero. First for volunteering to help treat Ebola patients, as eradicating Ebola in West Africa is the only way to handle this disease. She became a hero again for standing up to unjust restrictions upon her civil liberties upon returning home and supporting the concept of making political decisions based upon science and reason as opposed to giving in to public hysteria.

It was Hickox’s protests which forced Governors Christie and Cuomo to back away from guidelines policies which were both unnecessary and counterproductive. Some state governments are still going beyond the extremely cautious CDC guidelines with policies such as home quarantine of individuals who show no sign of the disease for twenty-one days. We know that this is unnecessary based both upon our knowledge of how the Ebola virus is transmitted and based upon our experience to date.  Ebola is not contagious early in the disease and is not transmitted by casual contact. While highly contagious when people are having symptoms such as projectile vomiting and uncontrolled diarrhea, those who do not have symptoms are not contagious. People with Ebola do not yet pose a danger of spreading the disease when they initially reach the CDC’s threshold of a fever of 101.4 degrees, and they certainly are not contagious before reaching this point.

We have seen one patient in Texas be released in error by an Emergency Room and return to the community. We have seen a nurse later revealed to be infected with Ebola fly with a low grade fever. We have had a doctor traveling around a city as densely populated as New York City just prior to meeting criteria for isolation. Not a single person has contracted Ebola due to contact with these individuals. That is the nature of the disease.

Kaci Hickox, well aware of the science, has stated she plans to fight the involuntary home quarantine which the governor of Maine seeks to impose:

“I will go to court to attain my freedom,” Hickox told “Good Morning America” today via Skype from her hometown of Fort Kent, Maine. “I have been completely asymptomatic since I’ve been here. I feel absolutely great.”

One of her attorney’s explained her legal position:

New York civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel, said she would contest any potential court order requiring her quarantine at home.

“The conditions that the state of Maine is now requiring Kaci to comply with are unconstitutional and illegal and there is no justification for the state of Maine to infringe on her liberty,” he said.

Hickox will abide by daily monitoring, as recommended the by updated guidelines released Monday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyman said. She has been in regular contact with state health officials, Siegel said.

U.S. CDC Director Tom Frieden called for isolation of people at the highest risk for Ebola infection but said most medical workers returning from the three African nations at the center of the epidemic — Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea — would require daily monitoring without isolation.

The new guidelines recommend considering isolation only for individuals exposed to Ebola who show symptoms. Those with no signs of illness should be monitored for 21 days after the last potential exposure, with symptom-free individuals at the highest risk subject to “restricted movement within the community” and no travel on public transportation, according to the guidelines…

“She understands the nature of the disease, she treated it,” Hyman said. “She understands the nature of the risk.”

The American Civil Liberties Union has posted an article on the over-reaction to Ebola coming from some politicians, in contrast to the more rational guidelines proposed by the Center for Disease Control and the Obama administration:

One over-reaction to the disease that has emerged is a proposal for a blanket travel ban from the affected countries in West Africa. Public health experts say that such bans are not necessary, would not be effective, and would be a poor use of resources. Worse still, experts say they would most likely make matters worse by further isolating the countries where the outbreak is taking place, worsening the situation in those countries and therefore the threat to the United States. Travel bans “hinder relief and response efforts risking further international spread,” as the World Health Organization warned. Experts say such bans would also inevitably drive travelers underground, making it difficult to retrace the path of a disease when a case does appear.

Proposals to close the border to all travelers from affected nations are not a scientifically and medically legitimate exercise of government power and therefore would be arbitrary and discriminatory whether applied to citizens or non-citizens.

Now, of course, we are also seeing the questionable use of quarantine powers in some states. Medical experts have opposed such steps given that Ebola is not transmissible until after a fever begins and is not a highly transmissible disease generally, and given that individuals have strong incentives to carefully monitor themselves. Doctors Without Borders, for example, has condemned these quarantines as a threat to its battle against the disease in Africa. It cites the effect the quarantines will have in deterring doctors and nurses from taking the already remarkably brave step of entering the fight against the disease—and in stigmatizing them when they do. In short such quarantines threaten to weaken the most effective weapon we have in stopping the disease at its source. (It’s also shameful to treat returning health care workers, who have put their own lives at risk to help others, as anything less than heroes.)

Where individuals cooperate with the authorities in allowing close monitoring of their health and other reasonable precautions, the imposition of quarantines on those without symptoms appears to be driven by politics rather than science, and therefore raises serious civil liberties concerns.

While some political leaders have acted out of fear, Obama Administration officials deserve praise for largely sticking to science and not caving in to some of the fear mongering that is swirling around them. The White House has prioritized medicine over politics. It has resisted calls for travel bans, tried to persuade the governors of New Jersey and New York to reconsider their quarantines, and has largely followed the advice of public health experts in the recommendations that they have made. The Administration has also taken helpful steps such as expediting emergency FDA authorization for the use of new machines for rapid detection of the Ebola virus—which could allow detection of the disease before symptoms appear.

In fact, the Obama Administration has a history of good policy on communicable diseases. As we described in a 2009 white paper on that year’s H1N1 flu scare, the Administration acted calmly and appropriately in response to that epidemic, and overall, President Obama has turned away from his predecessor’s military/law enforcement approach to fighting disease, which we criticized in detail in our 2008 report on pandemic preparedness.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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Voting Millennials Support Republican-Run Congress http://themoderatevoice.com/199933/voting-millennials-support-republican-run-congress/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199933/voting-millennials-support-republican-run-congress/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:40:47 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199933 Gone are the days of young people heavily voting Democratic. The millennial vote is up for grabs and could even swing next week’s elections, according to a poll the Harvard University Institute of Politics released Wednesday. In a departure from youth responses in 2010, a little more than half of 18-to-29-year-olds who said they plan [...]

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Gone are the days of young people heavily voting Democratic. The millennial vote is up for grabs and could even swing next week’s elections, according to a poll the Harvard University Institute of Politics released Wednesday. In a departure from youth responses in 2010, a little more than half of 18-to-29-year-olds who said they plan to…

Voting Millennials Support Republican-Run Congress

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Halloween: The Orange and Black http://themoderatevoice.com/199929/haloween-orange-black/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199929/haloween-orange-black/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:14:20 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199929 The Orange and Black Raging Moderate by Will Durst Here it comes. Creeping down dark alleys. Overturning garbage cans and spooking black cats. The scariest day of the year. With the exception of your next birthday, that is. Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve. The night preceding All Saint’s Day. Time to carve a gourd. Besides being [...]

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The Orange and Black
Raging Moderate by Will Durst

Here it comes. Creeping down dark alleys. Overturning garbage cans and spooking black cats. The scariest day of the year. With the exception of your next birthday, that is. Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve. The night preceding All Saint’s Day. Time to carve a gourd.

Besides being an excellent excuse to gorge on candy corn and toffee apples, it is also an occasion used by many religions to honor deceased relatives by placing lighted candles on the graves of the dead. Probably where that whole ghosts and witches and ghouls and devils thing got started. How pink princesses, Ninja Turtles and Mickey Mouse got thrown into the mix, is anyone’s guess.

Supposedly, Celtic pagans (or is it pagan Celtics) originated the merrymaking way back in the B.C.s with something called Samhain, a harvest festival halfway between the autumnal equinox and the Winter Solstice. Designed as a blowout before the onset of winter, (Winter is coming!) it featured much feasting and not a little drinking, if you catch my drift. There very well may have been carousing. Not to mention reveling and frolicking. These were pagans, after all.

Then around the 8th century, Catholics introduced All Saints Day into their liturgical calendar to honor dead saints; just happening to coincide with the extant partying. So all good little Christians could still have their fun honoring dead people; but do it in the name of the Lord instead of some Wicker Guy destined to burn up in a big bonfire. If you can’t beat em, conjoin em.

Today Halloween has morphed into a hodgepodge of ever evolving rituals including scary movies and wearing costumes and traipsing door to door begging for treats and threatening to play tricks if none are given. Behavior, seemingly leaked over from Halloween’s holiday neighbor: Election Day.

In some municipalities the orange and black has become nothing less than a loosely organized bacchanalia. (named after Bacchus, one of the old gods of which we previously spoke) Entire districts of whole towns given over to mass feasting and much drinking and very definitely- carousing. Because we are the neopagans. Of course, for those living in San Francisco and New Orleans, Halloween is redundant.

It is a murky and confusing time, which may come from October and November stemming from the words eight and nine, but being the tenth and eleventh months of the year. For this we can thank Julius, that wacky Emperor, who altered the Roman calendar from 10 months to 12, naming one of them after himself. And his buddy Augustus. It was a Caesar thing. Like a salad.

Then, when Halloween ends, the black and orange will be taken down and the red and green will go up. And every third radio station will begin playing non- stop Christmas songs. Another Christian celebration merging with a pagan one. Saturnalia was held following the solstice to celebrate the dragon not eating the sun, and the return of the light. Again: pretty much exactly what Christmas is all about.

Then down the line, there will New Year’s Eve, and both it and Christmas and Thanksgiving, will all be observed by a whole lot of feasting and not a little drinking. Not to mention carousing, reveling and frolicking. Oh, my, yes, there will be frolicking. Anyone beginning to detect a pattern here?

——-

Copyright ©2014, Will Durst, distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate.

Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed political comic. Go to willdurst.com for more about the documentary film “3 Still Standing,” and a calendar guide to personal appearances such as his hit one- man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG.”

Email Will at durst@caglecartoons.com. Visit to willdurst.com to find about more about his new CD, “Elect to Laugh” and calendar of personal appearances.

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Cartoon: Honey Boo Boo http://themoderatevoice.com/199928/cartoon-honey-boo-boo/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199928/cartoon-honey-boo-boo/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:11:38 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199928 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle


See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Mystery of Amelia Earhart Solved? Fragment From Missing Plane Identified http://themoderatevoice.com/199923/icopyright-one-button-toolbar/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199923/icopyright-one-button-toolbar/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 04:32:59 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199923 Researchers at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) revealed that a piece from Amelia Earhart’s vanished aircraft has been identified in Nikumaroro, an atoll in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati. This is the first time that an artifact from the wreckage has been directly linked to Earhart’s last expedition, in which she [...]

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Researchers at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) revealed that a piece from Amelia Earhart’s vanished aircraft has been identified in Nikumaroro, an atoll in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati. This is the first time that an artifact from the wreckage has been directly linked to Earhart’s last expedition, in which she was…

Mystery of Amelia Earhart Solved? Fragment From Missing Plane Identified

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Canada’s Terrorism Turning Point http://themoderatevoice.com/199920/canadas-terrorism-turning-point/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199920/canadas-terrorism-turning-point/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 04:11:38 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199920 TORONTO, Canada — The live TV coverage on CBCNN brought back memories of another assassination — the assassination of JFK. A funeral procession punctuated by drumbeats and bagpipes. Only this time, a country’s grief focused on Corporal Nathan Cirillo. Only this time, the haunting image of a child that’ll be reproduced forever was Carrillo’s 5-year-old [...]

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TORONTO, Canada — The live TV coverage on CBCNN brought back memories of another assassination — the assassination of JFK. A funeral procession punctuated by drumbeats and bagpipes. Only this time, a country’s grief focused on Corporal Nathan Cirillo. Only this time, the haunting image of a child that’ll be reproduced forever was Carrillo’s 5-year-old son Marcus, bravely walking in the parade, his life changed forever.

Just as Canada’s course has changed forever.

When Michael Zehalf-Bibeau killed the unarmed 24-year-old Cirillo standing guard at the National War Memorial, and then stormed Parliament Hill, it was in what police conclude was an “ideological and political” act — the second of two sucker punches from radical Islam. Two days earlier, a sympathizer of the terrorist group ISIS ran over and killed Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in the province of Quebec.

Pundits in Toronto’s superb local newspapers and on airwaves talk of a “loss of innocence” for the 147-year-old country, a claim that’s as inaccurate as saying 9/11 was a “loss of innocence” for the U.S., or that the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks that took 164 lives was a “loss of innocence” for India. But was it an event that will set in motion transformations? Yes.

The Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin notes that the twin murders’ timing will strengthen Prime Minister Stephen Harper: “It may be short in duration, but patriotism is overflowing in this land right now,” he writes. “In times like these, people want a strong man. Security becomes a top-drawer issue. It all plays perfectly to the politics of Mr. Harper, who is being lauded for his handling of this crisis.”

He points out that it seemed like only yesterday when Harper’s decision to have Canada join the air battle against ISIS, and his warnings that Canada was a terrorist target, were being ignored or pooh-poohed.

Meanwhile, Canadian ambassador to the United States Gary Doer has been trying to put out a media firestorm in his assigned country. Pundits on Fox News and other ideologues are vastly inflating the number of Canadians fighting with ISIS to bolster their claims that Canada is a bee’s nest of Muslim terrorism and a danger to the U.S. They inaccurately suggest the two killers of Cirillo and Vincent could have easily crossed into the United States.

“But neither had a passport. What part of that don’t you get?” Doer told The National Post. “Part of my job is to say ‘You shouldn’t be pointing fingers: you should be looking in the mirror if you have a problem.’”

Good luck, with that, Mr. Ambassador. If America is the land of the free, it’s also now the home of predictable and tiresomely trite political ideologues. For instance, in a blog post, Republican Mike Huckabee simply couldn’t control himself, and had to point at Parliament sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vikers’ shooting of Zehalf-Bibeau to slam gun control.

“So if you’re keeping score, once again: a would-be mass murderer who might have wiped out half the Canadian government was not stopped by sharpened flagpoles. He was stopped by a good guy with a gun,” Huckabee the Hack wrote.

The Conservative government here is now looking into ways to handle and contain its citizens who back, support or join terrorist groups. It will likely seek additions to the pending “Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act,” which would be the first major national security revision since 1984. Today, citizens of the United States’ biggest customer are having a conversation about checks and balances while considering giving police broader powers.

“The strongest counterattack we can make upon the Islamic State…will be to make certain that the Canada of yesterday will continue unchanged, for, if necessary, the next several decades,” Toronto Star columnist Richard Gwyn wrote. “It’s as considerable a challenge as we’ve ever faced. If we do it right, we’ll be leading the world.”

Canada’s nickname is “True North Strong and Free.” It’ll be struggling to keep that nickname as it moves further into what promises to be a brutal, ultra-violent, terrorism-plagued 21st century — as it responds to its wake-up call.

——-

Copyright 2014 Joe Gandelman. This weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Moderate thunder out of Kansas http://themoderatevoice.com/199917/moderate-thunder-kansas/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199917/moderate-thunder-kansas/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 04:00:06 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199917 . IOLA, Kan. — The several dozen citizens gathered at a street corner just off the main square of this southeastern Kansas town of 5,600 were polite and friendly in the Midwestern way. They did not look in the least like a band of counterrevolutionaries intent on reversing the direction of the government in Topeka. [...]

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IOLA, Kan. — The several dozen citizens gathered at a street corner just off the main square of this southeastern Kansas town of 5,600 were polite and friendly in the Midwestern way. They did not look in the least like a band of counterrevolutionaries intent on reversing the direction of the government in Topeka.

Yet the results of the tea party rebellion four years ago have led these civic-minded, middle-of-the-road Kansans to a quiet but fierce determination to take their state back from those who once talked incessantly about taking their country back.

What brought them together earlier this week was a visit from Paul Davis, the Democratic candidate for governor. Davis has generally been running ahead of Republican incumbent Sam Brownback in what is one of the country’s most consequential showdowns on next Tuesday’s ballot.

Brownback set things up this way by launching what he called, proudly and unapologetically, a “real, live experiment” that he hoped would provide a model of red-state governance. He pushed steep income and business tax cuts through the Legislature, insisting that his program would spur unprecedented economic growth. The results so far have been less than inspiring: large budget deficits, credit downgrades, and substantial cuts in education spending, some of which were reversed only because of a court order. Only rarely does an election pose such a clear philosophical and policy choice.

Brownback often cited low-tax Texas as his model, prompting a ready reply from Davis. “They don’t want to be like Texas,” he said in an interview at his storefront headquarters here. “They just want to be Kansas.”

What it means to be Kansas is precisely what’s at stake, and it’s why Davis’ campaign uses #RestoreKansas — a traditionalist’s slogan when you think about it — as its Twitter battle cry. The choice Davis is offering is not between liberalism and conservatism but between two kinds of conservatism — the deeply anti-government tea party kind, and an older variety that values prudence and fiscal restraint but also expects government to provide, as Davis put it, “the basic services that are essential to the state’s vitality.”

In his stump speech, Davis emphasizes public education, transportation, Brownback’s rejection of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, and a widely unpopular privatization of Kansas’ Medicaid program.

What’s striking is how many Republicans have joined Davis’ effort, including a large group of Republican politicians, some of whom Brownback purged in bitter primaries. Achieving ideological purity in the GOP turns out to have high costs, and Davis spoke of “the many functions we’ve had where we had more Republicans than Democrats.

“I like those,” he adds.

Indeed he does. In a state where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by almost 2-1, moderately conservative Republicans are the swing voters.

Some are shocked that Kansas is one of this year’s battlegrounds, not only in the governor’s race but also in the pivotal U.S. Senate contest between independent Greg Orman and incumbent Republican Pat Roberts. But one person who is not surprised is James Roberts (no relation to the senator), Davis’ 29-year-old campaign manager.

In January 2013, the young organizer paid me a visit in Washington to explain why Kansas could swing Democratic this year. Over lunch at a Mexican restaurant this week in Lawrence, I asked him how he knew this back then. “We’re a Kassebaum-Dole-Eisenhower state,” Roberts said, referring to two legendary Republican senators and the president from Abilene by way of stressing that Kansas is “a pragmatic, moderate state.”

“We’re not a state of radical experiments,” he said. “Anytime conservatism takes a back seat to raw ideology, Kansans rebuke that idea.”

If Republicans do as well nationwide next Tuesday as many expect, they should pay attention to the reaction unleashed here by Brownback, a former U.S. senator whom Davis regularly accuses of bringing “Washington, D.C.-style politics to Kansas,” which he equates with “hyperpartisan politics.”

Among those who came out to greet Davis here was David Toland, executive director of Thrive Allen County, a social service and economic development organization. He summarized why the decision here matters so much.

“If moderates are starting to push back against the extremism of the Republican Party in Kansas, I cannot believe they won’t be pushing back in other states,” Toland said. “This is a state with a strong conservative tradition that’s in open rebellion against the policies of its own party.”

Conservatism at its finest has been defined by a devotion to moderation. Next week, conservative Kansas may remind the nation that this is still true.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne. (c) 2014, Washington Post Writers Group

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Birth control device linked to serious harm in women; maker covered up dangers http://themoderatevoice.com/199912/birth-control-device-linked-serious-harm-women-maker-covered-dangers/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199912/birth-control-device-linked-serious-harm-women-maker-covered-dangers/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 01:00:32 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199912 By Miriam Raftery SAN DIEGO, Ca – An ABC News investigation that includes 10 News in San Diego reveals that the maker of the Essure birth control device covered up evidence that patients have been seriously harmed by the device for over a decade. The device consists of metal coils that are implanted inside a [...]

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Birth Control1By Miriam Raftery

SAN DIEGO, Ca – An ABC News investigation that includes 10 News in San Diego reveals that the maker of the Essure birth control device covered up evidence that patients have been seriously harmed by the device for over a decade.

The device consists of metal coils that are implanted inside a woman’s Fallopian tubes to provide permanent birth control.

But the coils have punctured the Fallopian tubes in some women, causing miscarriages and other serious problems. In at least 91 cases, women had to undergo hysterectomies and remove their reproductive organs. In other cases, the devices have caused ectopic pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening condition in which a fertilized egg implants inside the Fallopian tube, not the uterus.

Essure has also been known to migrate out of the Fallopian tubes causing other damage including bowel perforation.

One woman said it felt like her insides were being “shredded” and that she was in constant pain. Pelvic pain, along with bloating and rashes, are common complaints among women who have had the Essure device implanted.

At least one death has occurred in a woman who suffered a strep infection that destroyed her reproductive organs after the device was implanted.

The device has also been linked to serious harm in women with allergies to nickel.

Conceptus, which made the device until the company recently sold to Bayer, was cited multiple times by the Food and Drug administration for failing to report complaints.

Thousands of complaints have occurred through the years, even triggering a Congressional hearing where women called for the device to be banned from the market. Of those, 168 complaints received by the company since 2007 were regarding perforations and other serious problems – yet Conceptus only told the FDA about 22 of those complaints.

A Facebook page now has attracted over 3,000 women describing their negative experiences with the device and Erin Brokovich, the activist who won a major lawsuit over the poisoning of a town’s water supply, has joined the fight to protect women from Essure, setting up a website for women harmed by Essure to tell their stories.

Astonishingly, women who have been harmed by the device can’t sue the manufacturer of Essure, since An FDA rule protects the manufacturer and prevents patients from suing, even though Conceptus covered up the high numbers of patients seriously harmed by its product.

Conceptus sold to Bayer HealthCare in June 2013. Bayer has not received any notices of reporting violations from the FDA. Bayer has said that it takes all adverse events seriously, but that most of the side effects to Essure are listed in the product’s instructions for use information provided to patients. But other than improving its reporting of adverse effects, has Bayer taken any steps to actually make the device safer?

ABC News sought to obtain additional details. But some records obtained from the FDA were blacked out. The TV network is now appealing those redactions.

So for now, it’s buyer beware for women who use the Essure birth control devices.

The preceding article was reprinted from the award-winning East County Magazine, a member of the San Diego Online News Association (SDONA). Miriam Raftery is East County Magazine’s editor.

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Obamacare’s Post Mid-Term Future http://themoderatevoice.com/199835/obamacares-post-mid-term-future/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199835/obamacares-post-mid-term-future/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 00:44:48 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199835 Jason Millman discusses a Harvard meta-analysis of polls on the Affordable Care Act on The Washington Post’s Wonkblog. Although the politics of Obamacare have cooled down this year — and even with declining interest in this year’s midterms — the upcoming election will have a bigger influence on the direction of health care than you [...]

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Jason Millman discusses a Harvard meta-analysis of polls on the Affordable Care Act on The Washington Post’s Wonkblog.

Although the politics of Obamacare have cooled down this year — and even with declining interest in this year’s midterms — the upcoming election will have a bigger influence on the direction of health care than you may think. That’s the major takeaway from a new Harvard University analysis of 27 public opinion polls from 14 organizations on President Obama’s signature law. The analysis, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, offers a pretty comprehensive view of how the Affordable Care Act — less than a year into its major coverage expansion — will shape the agenda for the next Congress and potentially the 2016 presidential race.

 

Even Republican Senators are now talking down the possibility of full repeal. Instead, GOP leaders are talking about more targeted efforts to scale back the law, like weakening its coverage mandates and reducing subsidies for private insurance sold on the ACA’s marketplaces. Democrats, meanwhile, are promoting “fixes” to the law, like cheaper insurance offerings and efforts to close coverage gaps. And if they maintain control of the Senate, they might try to pour more resources into supporting the law.

 

A Republican Senate, the researchers write, would scale back the law’s mandates and taxes, mostly through the budgetary process. They may put up some Obamacare replacement plans, but likely wouldn’t pass any. They say if Democrats keep the Senate, they would try to provide more resources for the law, and the political environment would encourage more of the 23 Medicaid expansion hold-out states to opt into the program. And it would give Democrats’ 2016 presidential candidates more confidence to push for expanded coverage.

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

http://thesensiblecentercom.blogspot.com/2014/10/obamacares-post-mid-term-future.html

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Kobani Reinforcements Pour In Via Turkey http://themoderatevoice.com/199910/kobani-reinforcements-pour-via-turkey/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199910/kobani-reinforcements-pour-via-turkey/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 00:36:50 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199910 Update as of 5:10 a.m. EDT: At least 150 fighters of the rebel Free Syrian Army, or FSA, entered Syria overnight from Turkey on Wednesday to help Kurdish fighters battling militants of the Islamic State group in the town of Kobani, Agence France-Presse, or AFP, reported, citing local Turkish officials. Last week, Turkish President Recep [...]

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Update as of 5:10 a.m. EDT: At least 150 fighters of the rebel Free Syrian Army, or FSA, entered Syria overnight from Turkey on Wednesday to help Kurdish fighters battling militants of the Islamic State group in the town of Kobani, Agence France-Presse, or AFP, reported, citing local Turkish officials. Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip…

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Do Americans deserve this? http://themoderatevoice.com/199905/americans-deserve/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199905/americans-deserve/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 00:24:00 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199905 In a rare public accounting of its mass surveillance program, the United States Postal Service reported that it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations. The number of requests, contained in [...]

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shutterstock_98255666 (1)

In a rare public accounting of its mass surveillance program, the United States Postal Service reported that it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations.

The number of requests, contained in a 2014 audit of the surveillance program by the Postal Service’s inspector general, shows that the surveillance program is more extensive than previously disclosed and that oversight protecting Americans from potential abuses is lax.

The audit, along with interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, offers one of the first detailed looks at the scope of the program, which has played an important role in the nation’s vast surveillance effort since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The audit, which was reported on earlier by Politico, found that in many cases the Postal Service approved requests to monitor an individual’s mail without adequately describing the reason or having proper written authorization. …NYT

Dot dot dot — and then this:

The Postal Service also uses a program called Mail Imaging, in which its computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail sent in the United States. The program’s primary purpose is to process the mail, but in some cases it is also used as a surveillance system that allows law enforcement agencies to request stored images of mail sent to and received by people they are investigating. …NYT

I don’t know what to think about this. It may not seem that crazy to a population many of whom take photographs of everything they eat.

Cross-posted from Prairie Weather

graphic via shutterstock.com

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to a glitch this appeared on TMV for a while under the wrong byline. We regret the error.

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The ‘Blackwaterization’ of War: Obama is Gambling on it (L’Orient Le Jour, Lebanon) http://themoderatevoice.com/199900/blackwaterization-war-obama-gambling-lorient-le-jour-lebanon/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199900/blackwaterization-war-obama-gambling-lorient-le-jour-lebanon/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:44:40 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199900 After a trial that for some reason lasted seven years, last week a jury convicted four former Blackwater mercenaries of murdering 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in a firefight on September 16, 2007 aka/ Baghdad’s Bloody Sunday. For Lebanon’s L’Orient Le Jour, columnist Christian Merville writes that despite the convictions – which will inevitably be appealed, [...]

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After a trial that for some reason lasted seven years, last week a jury convicted four former Blackwater mercenaries of murdering 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in a firefight on September 16, 2007 aka/ Baghdad’s Bloody Sunday. For Lebanon’s L’Orient Le Jour, columnist Christian Merville writes that despite the convictions – which will inevitably be appealed, the privatization of warfare is precisely what President Obama depends on. After all, Merville says, Obama has promised not to send troops, but hasn’t breathed a word about sending ‘civilians.’

For the L’Orient Le Jour, Christian Merville begins with last week’s long-delayed Blackwater trial:

Need an army to wage war in your place? Here’s a contact: Constellis Holdings. If that name means nothing to you, try Academi (until 2011), Xe Services (created 2009), and finally Blackwater Worldwide at the time this sinister notoriety of the firm was founded by Erik Prince in 1997.

 

This name arose again last week when a federal jury in Washington convicted four former mercenaries for the massacre that took place on September 16, 2007 in Place Nisour at Baghdad, when 13 Iraqis were killed in cold blood (17 according to Iraqi investigators). The reaction of the defense lawyers was: “The verdict is incorrect, incomprehensible, and difficult to accept …” The matter will therefore go to appeal and the sentence decided as the judge dozes in his armchair and journalists feverishly consult Wikipedia to refresh their fading memories.

 

Nicholas Slatten, the leader of these so-called modern-day vigilantes, wanted to “kill as many Iraqis as possible to avenge the September 11 attacks.” Why Iraqis, why kill people running away, women and children? Because “the lives of these people are worthless; they are not even human – they are animals,” he replied to a prosecutor. To recap: in 2009, a judge issued a dismissal of the charges before proceedings were reinstated two years later.

 

There are dozens – even hundreds of “Blackwaters,” if you count the small firms scattered across the four corners of the planet, and the undisputed number two is G4S, by far the biggest employer in the world (staff of 625,000) after the unassailable Wal-Mart – which is a major retailer. There is a slight difference. As for the global market for mercenaries, it is estimated to be worth over $100 billion, which explains the competition for contracts. Almost all governments, one might say, have resorted or will resort to the use of these mercenaries for missions ranging from liberating Chinese workers engaged in road construction in South Sudan to the rear-guard action against the people who toppled Mohammar Qaddafi in Libya, to protecting oil installations and ships plying pirate-infested waterways.

READ ON IN ENGLISH OR FRENCH, OR READ MORE GLOBAL COVERAGE OF THE IRAQ-SYRIA CRISIS AT WORLDMEETS.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

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My Health Care Premiums http://themoderatevoice.com/199897/health-care-premiums/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199897/health-care-premiums/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:57:26 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199897 On a side note, the image of the rainbow was taken from my bike and close to where I live. I couldn’t find the pot of gold on either side. It kept moving! A few months ago there was a post and subsequent thread about how much healthcare insurance premiums might rise in 2015. There [...]

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San Diego Rainbow

San Diego Rainbow

On a side note, the image of the rainbow was taken from my bike and close to where I live.

I couldn’t find the pot of gold on either side. It kept moving!

A few months ago there was a post and subsequent thread about how much healthcare insurance premiums might rise in 2015. There was even a suggestion that rates at Kaiser Permanente of California (my insurer) might go down for the same plan.

At the time I said I would have my plan quotes by late October. I promised to share them. I received my quotes today, so here you go:

2014 premium is $666 a month or about $8,000 a year.

2015 will be $964 a month or a little under $12,000 a year.

Quick math: an increase of about 44%. Higher when we factor in that co-pays are also rising along with decreased prescription benefits.

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Poll: Extremes of power, but not of numbers http://themoderatevoice.com/199895/poll-extremes-power-numbers/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199895/poll-extremes-power-numbers/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:16:31 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199895 Pew Research Center just released data from its year-long look at polarization, a follow-up to the June release of its largest survey ever on American politics. The result is a fun and informative read about where Americans get their news and information, but once again, a distinct minority are receiving outsized attention, just as they [...]

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Pew Research Center just released data from its year-long look at polarization, a follow-up to the June release of its largest survey ever on American politics. The result is a fun and informative read about where Americans get their news and information, but once again, a distinct minority are receiving outsized attention, just as they do…

Michael Smerconish: Extremes of power, but not of numbers

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Arguing Against Counterproductive Hysteria Over Ebola http://themoderatevoice.com/199894/arguing-counterproductive-hysteria-ebola/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199894/arguing-counterproductive-hysteria-ebola/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:35:48 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199894 While the outbreak of Ebola began in West Africa about ten months ago, we have now had only nine patients with Ebola in this country. Most were brought in for treatment after contracting it elsewhere. One is currently undergoing treatment. One died. All the rest have recovered. There have been zero cases of transmission in [...]

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shutterstock_225598441

While the outbreak of Ebola began in West Africa about ten months ago, we have now had only nine patients with Ebola in this country. Most were brought in for treatment after contracting it elsewhere. One is currently undergoing treatment. One died. All the rest have recovered. There have been zero cases of transmission in the general population but two nurses have become infected while treating the patient who died.

There is a remarkable amount of hysteria in this country for a disease which has had so little actual impact. Some of this is natural fear, seeing how less developed nations have been affected, and some is due to hysteria being generated by Republican politicians for political gain. Unfortunately the proposals made by Republicans would be counterproductive, making it harder to treat Ebola at its source. Eliminating Ebola in West Africa is the only way to eliminate the problem and prevent further spread.

This is also turning out to be a learning experience, at least for those who respect science and are willing to consider the facts. In terms of treatment, hospitals around the country have learned from the mistakes made in Texas, and these are not likley to be repeated.

In terms of the political reaction, there are many sources which are trying to counter the over-reaction with reason. As we have seen on so many issues, some will pay attention to the facts, and others won’t.

The New England Journal of Medicine has released their editorial for next week’s issue, which includes a repetition of how Ebola is transmitted and the dangers of over-reaction:

The governors of a number of states, including New York and New Jersey, recently imposed 21-day quarantines on health care workers returning to the United States from regions of the world where they may have cared for patients with Ebola virus disease. We understand their motivation for this policy — to protect the citizens of their states from contracting this often-fatal illness. This approach, however, is not scientifically based, is unfair and unwise, and will impede essential efforts to stop these awful outbreaks of Ebola disease at their source, which is the only satisfactory goal. The governors’ action is like driving a carpet tack with a sledgehammer: it gets the job done but overall is more destructive than beneficial.

Health care professionals treating patients with this illness have learned that transmission arises from contact with bodily fluids of a person who is symptomatic — that is, has a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and malaise. We have very strong reason to believe that transmission occurs when the viral load in bodily fluids is high, on the order of millions of virions per microliter. This recognition has led to the dictum that an asymptomatic person is not contagious; field experience in West Africa has shown that conclusion to be valid. Therefore, an asymptomatic health care worker returning from treating patients with Ebola, even if he or she were infected, would not be contagious. Furthermore, we now know that fever precedes the contagious stage, allowing workers who are unknowingly infected to identify themselves before they become a threat to their community. This understanding is based on more than clinical observation: the sensitive blood polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) test for Ebola is often negative on the day when fever or other symptoms begin and only becomes reliably positive 2 to 3 days after symptom onset. This point is supported by the fact that of the nurses caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who died from Ebola virus disease in Texas in October, only those who cared for him at the end of his life, when the number of virions he was shedding was likely to be very high, became infected. Notably, Duncan’s family members who were living in the same household for days as he was at the start of his illness did not become infected…

The American College of Physicians has made the same argument:

The American College of Physicians is strongly concerned about the approach being taken by some state health departments to impose strict, mandatory quarantines for all physicians, nurses, and other health professionals returning from West Africa, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms of Ebola virus infection. ACP agrees that physicians and other health professionals must take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of others and prevent the spread of infection. However, the College maintains that mandatory quarantines for asymptomatic physicians, nurses and other clinicians, who have been involved in the treatment of Ebola patients, whether in the United States or abroad, are not supported by accepted evidence on the most effective means to control spread of this infectious disease. Instead, such mandatory quarantines may do more harm than good by creating additional barriers to effective treatment of patients with Ebola and impede global efforts to contain and ultimately prevent further spread of the disease…

Some newspapers, such as The New York Times, have repeated these arguments for a larger audience:

The Dangers of Quarantines

Ebola Policies Made in Panic Cause More Damage

… two ambitious governors — Chris Christie of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo of New York — fed panic by imposing a new policy of mandatory quarantines for all health care workers returning from the Ebola-stricken countries of West Africa through John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty international airports. There is absolutely no public health justification for mandatory quarantines…

Lost in this grandstanding was one essential point. The danger to the public in New York in the case of Dr. Craig Spencer, who had worked in Guinea for Doctors Without Borders, was close to nonexistent. Health experts are virtually unanimous in declaring that people infected with the virus do not become contagious until after they develop a fever or other symptoms, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or severe headaches, at which time they need to be hospitalized and taken out of circulation.

Health care workers like Dr. Spencer know that it is in their interest to ensure that — if symptoms do arise — they get care quickly to improve their chances of survival and to reduce the risk of infecting their friends and families. Dr. Spencer reported his temperature promptly when it was a low-grade fever of a 100.3 degrees and was rushed to Bellevue Hospital Center for isolation and treatment while his fiancée and two friends were put into voluntary isolation…

The problem with a mandatory quarantine, even if done at home, is that it can discourage heath care workers from volunteering to fight the virus at its source in West Africa. Doctors Without Borders, the nongovernmental organization that has led the battle there, typically sends its workers on arduous four- to six-week assignments. The risk of being quarantined for another 21 days upon return has already prompted some people to reduce their length of time in the field and may discourage others from volunteering in the first place…

Fortunately the response has been more rational at the federal than state level, including the statement from Barack Obama yesterday, pointing out that “If we don’t have robust international response in West Africa, then we are actually endangering ourselves here back home.”

President Obama pledged support for health care and aid workers in West Africa Tuesday, saying new rules for monitoring them for Ebola once they return to the United States would be “sensible and based on science.”

Obama gave brief remarks on the federal response to the disease after speaking with U.S. aid workers on the front lines of battling Ebola in West Africa.

“They’re doing God’s work over there, and they’re doing that to keep us safe, and I want to make sure that every policy we put in place is supportive of their efforts. Because if they are successful, then we’re not going to have to worry about Ebola here at home.”

Besides being counterproductive, there are civil liberties concerns when the government forcibly quarantines people who do not have the disease or who are not contagious. Kaci Hickox is challenging the actions to quarantine her stating, “I will go to court to attain my freedom.” I hope that she is successful both on the civil liberties aspects and in fighting politicians who are basing decision upon hysteria rather than the science. More on this subject here.

Updated from a post at Liberal Values

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Halloween In The Time of Ebola http://themoderatevoice.com/199892/halloween-time-ebola/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199892/halloween-time-ebola/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:59:00 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199892 Halloween In The Time of Ebola Tyrades! By Danny Tyree “Ewww!” said my wife, when I told her that BrandsOnSale.com is marketing leftover “Breaking Bad” meth lab hazmat suits as Ebola Containment Suits this Halloween, at $79.99 a pop. These suits are just part of a trend (call it tacky, insensitive, creepy, gross) that includes [...]

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Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

Halloween In The Time of Ebola
Tyrades! By Danny Tyree

“Ewww!” said my wife, when I told her that BrandsOnSale.com is marketing leftover “Breaking Bad” meth lab hazmat suits as Ebola Containment Suits this Halloween, at $79.99 a pop.

These suits are just part of a trend (call it tacky, insensitive, creepy, gross) that includes Zombie Robin Williams masks, partygoers dressed as disgraced former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (dragging around an inflatable wife), groups of friends dressing up as doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 passengers and the guy in Boise, Idaho with the decapitated Pres. Obama in his front yard.

Yes, folks are obsessed with costumes “ripped from today’s headlines,” no matter how fresh the wound they exploit. At least in the good old days when someone ripped a costume from the headlines, they dressed as a City Councilman Scheduling Hearings For The Proposed Sewer Bonds Issue. Correct me if I’m wrong, but kids in 1945 weren’t chanting, “Trick or treat, smell my feet, this simulated Bataan Death March is really neat.”

The reality of today is getting closer and closer to the satire of yesterday. Remember 1977 when Dan Aykroyd on “Saturday Night Live” portrayed huckster Irwin Mainway? Mainway’s Halloween wares (Invisible Pedestrian, Johnny Human Torch, Johnny Combat Action Costume with real M-1 rifle and Johnny Space Commander mask, i.e. a plastic bag with a rubber band) don’t seem so outlandish in today’s climate.

A spokesperson for BrandsOnSale.com insisted that spoilsports who get squeamish about the Ebola suits just don’t “get” the holiday; Halloween excesses are our way of mocking our fear of death. (Yeah, we really stick it to Death, because our ever-growing Halloween expenses leave us unable to pay for our funeral!)

The spokesperson defended the suits as a continuation of the grand old tradition of Halloween being a time to “laugh all the way to the b– um, er I mean whistle past the graveyard.” No, back in the day, we WHISTLED past the graveyard. Now there’s always some jerk who metaphorically drives past the graveyard with the stereo blasting, the engine roaring and piles of litter being tossed from the floorboard.

One guy got defensive about his Ebola suit. (“Let’s put this in perspective. Those 4,500 patients in West Africa got a permanent escape from their humdrum daily lives. After my one big night of escape and being the life of the party, I have to go back to my boring job running the drive-thru window. Life isn’t fair.”)

Of course this year’s timely costumes compete with the ongoing popularity of seductress outfits, worn by supposedly grown women who think the ultimate goal of a librarian, doctor, judge or police officer is to be “totally hot.”

Some of the women also insist on living vicariously through their little girls, dressing them in more and more risque outfits. Now the age-old question “What are you supposed to be dressed as, little girl?” is being replaced with “Can you break a twenty? Because I’m fresh out of singles for that G-string.”)

Wait, there’s more. According to USA Today, Americans will spend $350 million on costumes for their pets. Fair enough — until you consider the trend toward “sexy” pet costumes. One example is a dog dress with a BUSTY FAKE CHEST. It’s the evolution of American slang; we’ve gone from “that’s one sick puppy” to “that’s one sick master” in just a few years.

*Sigh*

——-

©2014 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at tyreetyrades@aol.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”. Danny’s’ weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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