05/14/2014 archive

Those Canadians, eh?

I’ll have a Brador, thanks.  And keep them coming.

And those Aussies.

Maybe a couple of Oil Cans now.

“No Place to Hide” Part 2

This is the second part of Glenn’s interview with Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman to discuss the book his book. The first part are here.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day,

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Ukraine needs Russia and the West

Violence in Ukraine is spreading. The Ukrainian military and police are splitting apart, a reflection of the fissures in that deeply divided country. Pro-Russian separatists are taking over government buildings and police stations in eastern Ukraine. Pro-government mobs have burned protesters alive. The referenda on self-rule cobbled together by pro-Russian movements in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions deepens the divisions. Zealots on both sides could drive the country into a bloody and destructive civil war.

The United States has no direct national security interests at stake in Ukraine, but we do have an interest in a united and functional Ukraine that has stable relations with its European Union neighbors to the west and with Russia to the east. And the United States surely wants to forestall a crisis that could disintegrate into civil war, economic collapse and chaos, possibly destabilizing a weak European economy.

But if the United States is to help stabilize Ukraine and prevent a much larger European crisis, then the American political establishment and much of the mainstream media will need a sober reassessment of reality.

Ana Marie Cox: Karl Rove’s comments about Hillary Clinton’s ‘brain damage’ are an outrage

But is it worse that Rove said it, or that former Obama advisor Robert Gibbs sat on the stage and didn’t say anything about it?

Karl Rove’s recent fiendish theorizing about Hillary Clinton suffering a traumatic brain injury is not just offensive, but tellingly so. He deftly dialed down the accusation in the original report and simultaneously kept the issue alive on Tuesday afternoon, saying “Of course she doesn’t have brain damage” – but that “she is going to have to be forthcoming” about the details of where, how and when her injury happened.

Such inflammatory messaging suggests the depths to which the GOP will go to destabilize Clinton’s earned reputation for competence – ironically, a trait that conservatives had a hand in crafting. It’s the Republicans who repeatedly cast her as an über-manipulative Lady Macbeth, whispering plans and moving pawns and knights into place. Like all successful smear campaigns, that label has stuck because of its relationship to an observable truth: Clinton, while sympathetic as a wronged wife, has never seemed powerless, much less confused. Rove’s grasping at a brain injury diagnosis could have just been a trial balloon for a new anti-Hillary message from the GOP, an attempt to replace “dangerously clever” with “dangerously impaired”.

I doubt it will work.

Jillian C. York: The tech community needs compassion and inclusivity to fight surveillance

We are living amidst a crisis of conscience, politics and action. We must approach surveillance from all angles, taking care not to shame or dismiss people in the process

We’re soon approaching the one-year anniversary of the Snowden revelations, a day that may have changed how we view privacy forever. Although it is perhaps too soon to measure, we have already begun to see societal changes: in the way we talk about surveillance and privacy, in our politics, and in our behavior online.

Just a few short months after the first set of documents were published, the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project released a study stating that 86% of surveyed Internet users have taken measures to avoid being surveilled online. A full 55% of Internet users reported having taken steps to avoid observation by specific people, organizations, or the government. While these statistics speak to an awareness of online spying, the PEN American Center’s November 2013 survey of its members discovered an even more chilling effect: one in six members stated that they had avoided writing or speaking publicly on a subject they thought would subject them to further surveillance.

Zoë Carpenter: Despite Shocking Reports of Fraud at Charter Schools, Lawmakers Miss Opportunity to Increase Oversight

Between 2003 and 2008, a Minnesota charter school executive named Joel Pourier embezzled more than $1.3 million from his school, the Oh Day Aki Charter School. While students at Oh Day Aki went without field trips and supplies for lack of funds, Pourier bought houses and cars and tossed bills at strippers. Because his school received federal funding-charter schools are privately run but many receive significant public financing-taxpayers were, in effect, subsidizing his lavish lifestyle.

Pourier’s case is just one of many collected in a new report by the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education that documents shocking misuses of the federal funds being funneled into the poorly regulated charter industry. The report examined fifteen states with large networks of charter schools and found that more than $100 million in public money had been lost to fraud, waste and other abuse. “Despite rapid growth in the charter school industry, no agency, federal or state, has been given the resources to properly oversee it,” the report says. “Given this inadequate oversight, we worry that the fraud and mismanagement that has been uncovered thus far might be just the tip of the iceberg.”

Jessica Valenti: Of course the French have better sex if our idea of sex is limited to men’s ideals

But, Paris, at least we’ll always have masturbation

There’s really nothing like a conversation with someone who doesn’t live here to make you remember how puritanical America is when it comes to sexuality – and women’s pleasure, specifically. In a pretty wonderful exchange between New York magazine’s Maureen O’Connor and French GQ sex columnist Maia Mazaurette, the women take on first dates (“There is no first date. There is just first sex”), open relationships and sex toys. Short version: I’ll see you all in Paris.

Mazaurette seems genuinely baffled by the curious coupling of American prudishness and male-centric sex: she worries that any American man she might date would think she was a “slut” based on French norms, and she doesn’t understand why American women give unreciprocated blow jobs. “I don’t pleasure in my mouth. It’s very mysterious to me, why an American woman would do that,” she told O’Connor.

Well, to start – it doesn’t help that the defining porno of all time is about a woman who has a clitoris in the back of her throat.

Michelle Chen: NYU Just Dropped Its Contract With JanSport-Why Is That a Victory for Global Labor Rights?

JanSport might be a high-profile brand on college campuses, but some savvy student activists are exposing the corporate dirt beneath the label. After months of protests, New York University’s Student Labor Action Movement got the the administration to finally act responsibility when doing business with the global fashion industry. The group has persuaded the University to cut its merchandise licensing deal with JanSport “until and unless” the manufacturer signs onto the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.

The university was responding to calls by SLAM, similar to those made on many campuses nationwide, to incorporate the Accord into its licensing deals for merchandise makers. The Accord is a landmark independent agreement that imposes binding rules and standards for building safety on the country’s massive and poorly regulated garment shops, aimed at preventing massive disasters like the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which left more than 1,100 people dead a year ago.

The Breakfast Club: 5-14-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.

Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

On This Day In History May 14

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

May 14 is the 134th day of the year (135th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 231 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1796, Edward Jenner, an English country doctor from Gloucestershire, administers the world’s first vaccination as a preventive treatment for smallpox, a disease that had killed millions of people over the centuries.

Edward Anthony Jenner (17 May 1749 – 26 January 1823) was an English scientist who studied his natural surroundings in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. Jenner is widely credited as the pioneer of smallpox vaccine, and is sometimes referred to as the “Father of Immunology”; his works have been said to have “saved more lives than the work of any other man”.


Lady Mary Wortley Montagu witnessed the Ottoman Empire practice of variolation during her 1716-1718 sojourn in Istanbul, where her husband was the British ambassador. She brought the idea back to Britain. Voltaire, a few years later, recorded that 60% of people caught smallpox, with 20% of the population dying of it. In the years following 1770 there were at least six people in England and Germany (Sevel, Jensen, Jesty 1774, Rendell, Plett 1791) who had successfully tested the possibility of using the cowpox vaccine as an immunization for smallpox in humans. For example, Dorset farmer Benjamin Jesty had successfully vaccinated and presumably induced immunity in his wife and two children with cowpox during a smallpox epidemic in 1774, but it was not until Jenner’s work some twenty years later that the procedure became widely understood. Indeed, Jenner may have been aware of Jesty’s procedures and success.

Jenner’s Initial Theory:

The initial source of infection was a disease of horses, called “the grease”, and that this was transferred to cows by farm workers, transformed, and then manifested as cowpox.

Noting the common observation that milkmaids did not generally get smallpox, Jenner theorized that the pus in the blisters which milkmaids received from cowpox (a disease similar to smallpox, but much less virulent) protected the milkmaids from smallpox. He may have had the advantage of hearing stories of Benjamin Jesty and others who deliberately arranged cowpox infection of their families, and then noticed a reduced smallpox risk in those families.

On 14 May 1796, Jenner tested his hypothesis by inoculating James Phipps, a young boy of 8 years (the son of Jenner’s gardener), with material from the cowpox blisters of the hand of Sarah Nelmes, a milkmaid who had caught cowpox from a cow called Blossom, whose hide hangs on the wall of the library at St George’s medical school (now in Tooting). Blossom’s hide commemorates one of the school’s most renowned alumni. Phipps was the 17th case described in Jenner’s first paper on vaccination.

Jenner inoculated Phipps with cowpox pus in both arms on the same day. The inoculation was accomplished by scraping the pus from Nelmes’ blisters onto a piece of wood then transferring this to Phipps’ arms. This produced a fever and some uneasiness but no great illness. Later, he injected Phipps with variolous material, which would have been the routine attempt to produce immunity at that time. No disease had followed. Jenner reported that later the boy was again challenged with variolous material and again showed no sign of infection.


Smallpox is more dangerous than variolation and cowpox less dangerous than variolation.


Infection with cowpox gives immunity to smallpox.


If variolation after infection with cowpox fails to produce a smallpox infection, immunity to smallpox has been achieved.


Immunity to smallpox can be induced much more safely than by variolation.

Ronald Hopkins states: “Jenner’s unique contribution was not that he inoculated a few persons with cowpox, but that he then proved they were immune to smallpox. Moreover, he demonstrated that the protective cowpox could be effectively inoculated from person to person, not just directly from cattle. In addition he tested his theory on a series of 23 subjects. This aspect of his research method increased the validity of his evidence.

He continued his research and reported it to the Royal Society, who did not publish the initial report. After improvement and further work, he published a report of twenty-three cases. Some of his conclusions were correct, and some erroneous – modern microbiological and microscopic methods would make this easier to repeat. The medical establishment, as cautious then as now, considered his findings for some time before accepting them. Eventually vaccination was accepted, and in 1840 the British government banned variolation – the use of smallpox itself – and provided vaccination – using cowpox – free of charge. (See Vaccination acts). The success of his discovery soon began to spread around Europe and as an example was used en masse in the Spanish Balmis Expedition a three year mission to the Americas led by Dr Francisco Javier de Balmis with the aim of giving thousands the smallpox vaccine. The expedtition was successful and Jenner wrote, “I don’t imagine the annals of history furnish an example of philanthropy so noble, so extensive as this.”

Jenner’s continuing work on vaccination prevented his continuing his ordinary medical practice. He was supported by his colleagues and the King in petitioning Parliament and was granted £10,000 for his work on vaccination. In 1806 he was granted another £20,000 for his continuing work.


In 1979, the World Health Organization declared smallpox an eradicated disease. This was the result of coordinated public health efforts by many people, but vaccination was an essential component. And although it was declared eradicated, some samples still remain in laboratories in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States, and State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR in Koltsovo, Novosibirsk Oblast, Russia.

The importance of his work does not stop there. His vaccine also laid the groundwork for modern-day discoveries in immunology, and the field he began may someday lead to cures for arthritis, AIDS, and many other diseases of the time.

Who’s behind the White House?

The climate is apparently already affecting the United States, according to the latest scientific reports, and the IPCC report is saying that we are facing severe crisis as we move further into this century. Yet public policy is nowhere near catching up to the extent of the crisis.

The underlying economic crisis has not been dealt with. The issues that led to the financial collapse in 2008 have not been addressed. The issues of too-big-to-fail, the issue of massive financial speculation and gambling that triggered the crisis have not been mitigated in any serious way by legislation. And most predictions are we’re heading into another global, deep recession sooner than later.

Lawrence Wilkerson is a retired United States Army soldier and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell.


I think, your real question, who’s behind the White House, and who’s therefore behind U.S. foreign policy, more or less? I think the answer today is the oligarchs, which would be the same answer, incidentally, ironically, if you will, for Putin in Russia, the people who own the wealth, the people who therefore have the power and who more or less (and I’m not being too facetious here, I don’t think) buy the president and thus buy American foreign policy.



TDS/TCR (9 to 5)


Didn’t See That Coming

Greenwald (of course)