10/30/2014 archive

Ebola: Feeding the Fear with Misinformation

Politicians and some state health officials, who should be ashamed, continue to fan public fear about Ebola and how it is spread. In a shockingly factless press conference, Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew threatened to forcefully quarantine all health care workers who don’t voluntarily quarantine themselves at home and submit to monitoring by DHHS.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew declined during a news conference to comment specifically on the case of nurse Kaci Hickox, who was confined against her will at a New Jersey hospital before traveling home to Maine. But Mayhew said her department and the attorney general’s office were prepared to take legal steps to enforce a quarantine if someone declines to cooperate.

“We do not want to have to legally enforce in-home quarantine,” she said. “We’re confident that selfless health workers who were brave enough to care for Ebola patients in a foreign country will be willing to take reasonable steps to protect residents of their own country. However we are willing to pursue legal authority if necessary to ensure risk is minimized for Mainers.”

Mechanically reading from a prepared statement, she continued babbling misinformation about Dr. Craig Spenser, who is hospitalized with Ebola in New York City, and how Ebola is spread. A former lobbyist, Ms. Mayhew has no medical background.

The state would need a court order and that might be not so easily obtained, since Ms. Hickox is symptom free and has twice tested negative for the Ebola virus. At an impromptu press conference on her front porch, Ms, Hickox said that she would not be “bullied” by politicians and plans to fight the state’s attempt to confine her to her home until November 10,

Norman Siegel, a prominent civil rights lawyer who is representing Ms. Hickox, said that “in our view she is not restricted to do anything.”

Ms. Hickox’s defiance put the focus for the next few days on one of the most remote reaches of the country, Fort Kent, a town on the Canadian border where she shares a home with her boyfriend. If detained by officials, she will have three days to seek a court order to challenge the quarantine.

Ms. Hickox said that the stigmatization of health workers had “exploded” across the country. She warned that quarantines would ultimately lead to families’ being shuttered in their homes and would deter aid workers from going to West Africa to help treat Ebola at its origin.

The question for the court is how constitutional is it to force quarantine on a healthy person who according to all science, is not contagious for the Ebola virus?

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, host of “The Last Word,” spoke with Mr. Seigel about the case

Sophie Delaunay, Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders, joined “All In” host Chris Hayes to explain why these policies are counterproductive

This quarantine is pure political grandstanding. You CANNOT contract Ebola from an asymptomatic person. The only way to become infected is DIRECT contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick.

The people who are putting their lives on the line in West Africa to stem the epidemic there should not be stigmatized by ignorant, ambitious fools.

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.

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

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Trevor Timm: The FBI says to be wary of hackers … and to let the FBI hack what it wants

Hacking seems to have become a go-to FBI tactic without much public thought or debate

Even as the FBI warns US citizens that their personal data is increasingly likely to be hacked by criminals, the agency – without any public debate – is quietly ramping up its own abilities to hack anyone in the world. And, as we found out this week, their underhanded tactics are even ensnaring news organizations.

The Seattle Times and Associated Press issued angry statements to the FBI on Tuesday after the American Civil Liberties Union’s Chris Soghoian discovered that the FBI had falsified an AP story and byline, and then possibly attempted to make it look like the fake story was published on the Seattle Times website – all to deliver malware to a suspect in a criminal case. The evidence was buried in documents obtained by EFF (pdf) (pages 61-62) under the Freedom of Information Act three years ago (and the emails date back even further), but no one seems to have noticed before this week. [..]

Recently, FBI director Jim Comey complained that Apple and Google shouldn’t be encrypting Americans’ smartphones by default “without careful thought and debate”. It’d be nice if he used the same standard for the FBI’s hacking abilities – which seems to have become a go-to FBI tactic without Comey ever granting the public the right to either think or debate about it.

Charles M. Blow: The Ebola Hysteria

The absolute hysteria surrounding the Ebola crisis underscores what is wrong with our politics and the policies they spawn.

On Ebola, the possible has overtaken the probable, gobbling it up in a high-anxiety, low-information frenzy of frayed nerves and Purell-ed hands.

There have been nine cases of Ebola in this country. All but one, a Liberian immigrant, is alive.

We aren’t battling a virus in this country as much as a mania, one whipped up by reactionary politicians and irresponsible media. We should be following the science in responding to the threat, but instead we are being led by silliness. And that comes at heavy cost.

The best way to prevent Ebola from becoming a pandemic is to stop it at its source – in West Africa, where the disease is truly exacting a heavy toll with thousands dead and thousands more infected. But the countries in that region can’t do it alone. They need help. The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, said on Tuesday, “We’ll need a steady state of at least 5,000 health workers from outside the region” to fight Ebola in West Africa. That means health care workers from other countries, including ours.

Barney Frank: Want to fix our dysfunctional Congress? Vote right-wing Republicans out of office

Changing congressional rules is a good idea. But that won’t fix a Congress run by people who seek to render government ineffective

I recently participated in a panel convened by Esquire Magazine, in which they asked four retired members of congress Senators Lott and Daschle, Congressman Livingston, and me to make recommendations about how to improve the function of Congress, including syncing up the House and Senate’s schedules, eliminating gerrymandering and speeding up the confirmations of executive appointees. I agree with all of them.

But as I made clear in the panel’s discussions, there is a much more important step that has to be taken before they can have any real beneficial impact. The reason we have suffered from a wholly dysfunctional Congress for the past four years is not procedural: it’s political.

Changing the House and Senate rules, and having those bodies meet more frequently are all good ideas. But they will not fix a Congress run by people who seek to render government ineffective. Only the voters can change this.

As long as the Republican Party is dominated by leaders of extreme ideological rigidity, and they escape the blame that they deserve, the dysfunctional situation in Congress will continue. Voters who are unhappy at gridlock need follow only a two-step program: first, pay some serious attention to who has caused this breakdown; second, vote them out of power.

Timothy Karr: Verizon’s Latest Censorship Plan Follows a Familiar Pattern

Last night, Daily Dot reported that Verizon is attempting to buy its way into the news cycle by creating a tech-news site, SugarString.com, to compete with the likes of Wired and The Verge.

But there’s a twist: According to emails from the site’s editors, SugarString will ban reporters from writing any stories about Net Neutrality or U.S. surveillance programs.

The site is now staffing up — hiring editors and reporters to produce stories that Verizon hopes will appeal to mainstream audiences. In an email to a prospective reporter, SugarString Editor Cole Stryker wrote that the ban on coverage of Net Neutrality and spying “is pretty much it as far as content restrictions go. The upside is that we have a big budget to pay people well, make video documentaries and other fun shit.”

From all indications, SugarString is nothing more than a thinly veiled Verizon PR effort. And it’s just the latest in the company’s ongoing campaign to control all things Internet. It’s a history that includes the offensive claim that Verizon has the constitutional right to censor everyone’s Web content.

Doug Bandow: Hawks Demand More Military Spending Than During Cold War: Stop Squandering ‘Defense’ Dollars on Other Nations

America accounts for nearly 40 percent of the globe’s military outlays, but Republican Party hawks believe that the federal government never spends enough on the Pentagon. The war lobby’s mantra always is more, much more.

Yet the U.S. already devotes far more than it should to “defense,” which today largely means protecting wealthy allies who prefer to spend their money on domestic goals. Washington should scale back its international responsibilities and cut Pentagon outlays accordingly.

The more U.S. officials want to do militarily, the more they must spend on the military. Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson rightly complained that Defense Department outlays today are being driven by budget concerns, “increasingly disconnected from our strategic interests and potential threats.” It is foolish to make commitments without providing the manpower and materiel necessary to follow through. Then Americans may die fighting losing wars. Washington should rationalize its strategic objectives first.

The Breakfast Club (The Witch’s New Year)

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. 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.

Samhain: The Thinning Of The Veil

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Samhain is one of the eight festivals of the Wiccan/Pagan Wheel of the Years that is celebrated as the new year with the final harvest of the season. It is considered by most practitioners of the craft to be the most important of the eight Sabats and one of the four fire festivals, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh. Beginning at sundown on October 31 and continuing through the next day, fires are lit and kept burning to recognize the shortening of days and the coming of winter’s long cold nights. [..]

It is also the time of the year that we reflect and honor our ancestors and especially those who have departed since last Samhain. According to Celtic lore, Samhain is a time when the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead become thinner, allowing spirits and other supernatural entities to pass between the worlds to socialize with humans. The fires and the candles burning in western windows are believed to help guide the spirits of the departed to the Summerlands. Like all Wiccan festivals, Samhain celebrates Nature’s cycle of death and renewal, a time when the Celts acknowledged the beginning and ending of all things in life and nature. Samhain marked the end of harvest and the beginning of the New Celtic Year. The first month of the Celtic year was Samonios – ‘Seed Fall’. [..]


This Day in History

‘War of the Worlds’ spooks Americans on Halloween Eve; A deadly mudslide hits Nicaragua after Hurricane Mitch; Muhammad Ali beats George Foreman in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’; Comedian Steve Allen dies.

Breakfast Tunes

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On This Day In History October 30

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.

October 30 is the 303rd day of the year (304th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 62 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1938, Orson Welles scares the nation.

The War of the Worlds was an episode of the American radio drama anthology series Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as a Halloween episode of the series on October 30, 1938 and aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. Directed and narrated by Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds.

The first two thirds of the 60-minute broadcast were presented as a series of simulated “news bulletins”, which suggested to many listeners that an actual alien invasion by Martians was currently in progress. Compounding the issue was the fact that the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a ‘sustaining show’ (it ran without commercial breaks), thus adding to the program’s quality of realism. Although there were sensationalist accounts in the press about a supposed panic in response to the broadcast, the precise extent of listener response has been debated. In the days following the adaptation, however, there was widespread outrage. The program’s news-bulletin format was decried as cruelly deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast, but the episode secured Orson Welles’ fame.



Great Country Song or Greatest Country Song Ever?

War on Halloween

The real news, the Web exclusive 2 part extended interview with Joaquin Castro, and this week’s guests below.

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville- The Trial Of Tryouts

Yesterday Baboo auditioned for his school musical. Now, he’s no stranger to the stage, we’ve had him in a couple of junior theaters and he’s done well, he has some experience. At the last place he attended he played the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, their version of Scar in a Lion King type production, and the Wells half of Wells and Fargo in a musical about the gold rush, but school productions are different. I tried to tell him to do the best he could, but be prepared to not get a part, or at least not more than chorus, possibly to be just on the stage crew.

2014 World Series Game 7: Giants at Royals

Well, last night’s game was very disappointing.  More disappointing than that is that Bochy is not planning on starting Bumgarner.

Yes, you heard me right.

Now if I had my way Bochy would already be playing golf because he didn’t start Bumgarner in Game 4 on 3 days in which case he’d have been available on the same 3 days for yesterday.

Suck it up you pampered preening pets, plenty of Managers have used a 2 man rotation.  To now hear that Bumgarner “is only human and we’ll have him in the bullpen”…

He, like you Bochy, will have plenty of time to play golf in the off season.  What are you saving him for?  Do you want to win The World Series or not?

Now I have my beefs with George Steinbrenner including his illegal campaign contributions and the fact that he traded my Uncle (yup, no fooling), but I never doubted that he was a man who absolutely understood that professional sports is not a business in the traditional sense.  It’s a Billionaire’s ego toy and either you pay what you need to win or you’re just another loser and he didn’t tolerate losers lightly.  If George owned the Giants are, Bumgarner would have already plaed 3 times and been ready in relief tonight and if any of his “Baseball People” disagreed they’d be gone.

Last night’s action-

Bottom 2nd, Leadoff Single, Single, Runners at Corners, RBI Double, Single, RBI Single, 2 RBI Single, Wild Pitch, 2 RBI Double, RBI Double.  Royals 7 – 0.

Bottom 3rd, Double, RBI Double.  Royals 8 – 0.

Bottom 5th, Leadoff Single, RBI Double.  Royals 9 – 0.

Bottom of 7th, Solo Shot.  Royals 10 – 0.

Game Over Dude.

Starting tonight for the Royals is Jeremy Guthrie (R, 13 – 11, ERA 4.13).  Post Season he has 1 Win with an ERA of 2.70 based on 10 Innings Pitched with 7 Hits, and 7 Runs scored.

He will be matched for the Giants by Tim Hudson (R, 9 – 13, ERA 3.57) who has 1 Post Season loss with an ERA of 3.72 based on 19.1 Innings Pitched with 18 Hits, 1 Home Run and 8 Runs scored.

Bumgarner has said he could pitch 200 Innings, but he won’t because Bochy is an idiot.  The Royals Bullpen is fully rested.

2014 World Series: How did we get here?

Well, Game 7 of The World Series.

I thought it might amuse you to see the path we took through the Wild Cards, and Division and League Championship Series.

Details below the fold.

Pumpkins, Not Just For Carving

Re-posted from October 22, 2011

When most of us think of pumpkins, we think of the orange orbs that get carved up for Halloween and pumpkin pie with gobs of whipped cream for dessert at Thanksgiving but pumpkins come in all shapes, colors, sizes and varieties. Some are good only for decoration, while others are not only decorative but very tasty in pies, soups and stews.

According to Wikipedia pumpkin “is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae (which also includes gourds). It commonly refers to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata, and is native to North America.” Some of the fun activities besides decorative carving for Halloween are Festivals and competitions with pumpkin chucking being among the most popular. Chucking has become so popular that some competitors grow their own special varieties that will survive being shot from catapults and cannons. The festivals are most dedicated to the competition for recipes and the competition for the largest pumpkin. This year that honor went to a 2058 pound beauty from Northern California will be on display this weekend at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival in San Francisco.

The pumpkin is one of the main symbols of Halloween and the Wiccan holiday of Samhain, which is a celebration of the end of the year, the final harvest and the coming of winter. The earliest that a craved pumpkin was associated with Halloween is 1866. Throughout Britain and Ireland the turnip has traditionally been used at Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger, making them easier to carve than turnips.

In cooking, the the fleshy shell, seeds, leaves and flowers are all edible. Canned pureed pumpkin is readily available in stores, as are the small, sweet variety of fresh pumpkin for the ambitious cook to make their own puree or for stews. When it comes to pies, the easiest is the canned, my favorite being Libby’s with the recipe on the label, label, label. It’s the only recipe I have ever used for pumpkin pie and I’ve never has a complaint.

Pumpkin and all it parts are also very nutritious, containing many vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidents. There is also an interesting medical study of pumpkin extract on type-1 diabetic rats:

(P)ublished in July 2007, suggests that chemical compounds found in pumpkin promote regeneration of damaged pancreatic cells, resulting in increased bloodstream insulin levels. According to the research team leader, pumpkin extract may be “a very good product for pre-diabetic people, as well as those who already have diabetes,” possibly reducing or eliminating the need for insulin injections for some type-1 diabetics. It is unknown whether pumpkin extract has any effect on diabetes mellitus type 2, as it was not the subject of the study.

One of my favorite recipes is Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping that is more popular than pie with my family.


Recipe and baking tips are below the fold