Daily Archive: 02/02/2015

Feb 02 2015

Groundhog Day

What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?

That about sums it up for me.

Ned?  Ned Ryerson?!

You like boats, but not the ocean. You go to a lake in summer with your family up in the mountains. There’s a long wooden dock and a boathouse with boards missing from the roof, and a place you used to crawl underneath to be alone. You’re a sucker for French poetry and rhinestones. You’re very generous. You’re kind to strangers and children, and when you stand in the snow you look like an angel.

How are you doing this?

I told you. I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney, and it’s always February 2nd, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

How appropriate

It’s the Mind

Feb 02 2015

Groundhog Day

What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?

That about sums it up for me.

Ned?  Ned Ryerson?!

You like boats, but not the ocean. You go to a lake in summer with your family up in the mountains. There’s a long wooden dock and a boathouse with boards missing from the roof, and a place you used to crawl underneath to be alone. You’re a sucker for French poetry and rhinestones. You’re very generous. You’re kind to strangers and children, and when you stand in the snow you look like an angel.

How are you doing this?

I told you. I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney, and it’s always February 2nd, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

How appropriate

It’s the Mind

Feb 02 2015

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

Paul Krugman: The Long-Run Cop-Out

On Monday, President Obama will call for a significant increase in spending, reversing the harsh cuts of the past few years. He won’t get all he’s asking for, but it’s a move in the right direction. And it also marks a welcome shift in the discourse. Maybe Washington is starting to get over its narrow-minded, irresponsible obsession with long-run problems and will finally take on the hard issue of short-run gratification instead.

O.K., I’m being flip to get your attention. I am, however, quite serious. It’s often said that the problem with policy makers is that they’re too focused on the next election, that they look for short-term fixes while ignoring the long run. But the story of economic policy and discourse these past five years has been exactly the opposite.

Robert Kuttner: America Should Send More People to Prison

You know the statistic. We incarcerate a higher proportion of the population than any other country does. Russia and South Africa rank respectively second and third.

Hundreds of thousands of young, now aging, men, are doing hard time for possession of small amounts of drugs. More and more people find themselves in jail because they got caught with bench warrants for their arrest for exorbitant fines they could not afford to pay. More than a century after debtors prisons were abolished, thousands are again behind bars because of debts.

But one category of felon is free on the street. I refer, of course, to corporate criminals.

Dean Baker: Greece needs an exit option

‘Grexit’ leverage could help country stay in the eurozone with better treatment

Every fan of the market knows the importance of exit. If your breakfast cereal is too bland, you can buy a different brand of cereal. If your barber charges too much, you can look for a new barber who will charge less. The option to leave is crucial since it forces the cereal producer and the barber to try to please their customers in order to keep them.

The same logic applies to Greece’s position in the euro. The country’s newly elected Syriza-led government intends to press the European Union (EU) for concessions that will allow it to restart its economy. The policies that have been imposed by the EU on Greece since the crisis could win a Nobel Prize for economic mismanagement. [..]

Since Greece has a trade surplus, it already doesn’t need to borrow to finance essential imports. (The recent plunge in oil prices could save Greece $9 billion a year, or close to 4 percent of GDP.) The drop in the drachma relative to the euro will further improve its trade position, leading to a boost in net exports and a sharp upturn in employment. It is certainly plausible that Greece’s economy will in very short order make up the ground lost to an initial period of instability and then continue on a path of robust growth.

This is where the EU has inadvertently done Greece a favor. It has damaged Greece’s economy and society so severely that the disruptions caused by leaving the euro are likely to seem minor by comparison.

Joseph Hickman: To be commander at Gitmo, no experience necessary

No one in charge of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility has had a background in detention. Why?

Thirteen years ago, the United States started bringing detainees that were captured in the global war on terror to its detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Nine months after the first detainees arrived at Guantánamo, the Department of Defense (DoD) created the “Joint Task Force Guantanamo” (JTF-GTMO). Their stated mission is to maintain safe, humane, legal and transparent detention operations.

In the intervening years, detainees and human rights watchdog groups, have filed hundreds of complaints and allegations of mistreatment and abuse against JTF-GTMO. Since its inception, eleven commanders have led JTF-GTMO. Those commanders are responsible for creating, approving and ensuring the enforcement of all operational procedures for the guard force, and for the proper care and wellbeing of the detainees.

Yet, of the eleven JTF-GTMO commanders, not a single one had any experience or training in detention operations prior to arriving at Guantánamo.

Zoë Carpenter: The Main Problem With Obama’s Climate Policy? It Makes No Sense

Not for the first time, the Obama administration is offering doublespeak when it comes to energy and the environment. On Sunday the White House announced its intention to designate more than 12 million acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness, which would put the area permanently off limits to oil and gas drilling. “Obama’s Arctic Power Grab,” is how Politico described the move, framing it as a sign of “Obama’s shift to the left on environmental issues.” Oil executives and Alaskan politicians responded with apocryphal statements. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, went so far as to claim that Obama had “effectively declared war on Alaska.”

Two days later the administration unveiled a five-year plan that would open up a vast new stretch of ocean off the coast of Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia to oil and gas drilling, and sell new leases for drilling in the Arctic. More than 3 billion barrels of oil await the drilling rigs on the outer continental shelf of the Atlantic, according to estimates from the early 1980s. The New York Times reports that the reserves could be even greater. “This is a balanced proposal that would make available nearly 80 percent of the undiscovered technically recoverable resources, while protecting areas that are simply too special to develop,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement.

Let’s hear that again: the Obama administration proposes to open up nearly 80 percent of the nation’s untapped offshore oil and gas reserves by 2022. The sick irony of that figure is that 80 percent also happens to be the proportion of proven fossil-fuel reserves that must stay in the ground in order to avoid the extremely unpleasant effects of more than 2 degrees Celsius of global warming.

Feb 02 2015

TBC: Morning Musing 2.2.15

I have 2 articles for your perusal this morning.

The first is a great article by David Mizner:

Don’t Blame Islam

Also in the New Yorker, Teju Cole wrote, “Violence from ‘our’ side continues unabated. By this time next month, in all likelihood, many more ‘young men of military age’ and many others, neither young nor male, will have been killed by US drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere. If past strikes are anything to go by, many of these people will be innocent of wrongdoing.”

That counts as progress. As does CNN’s decision to run a piece by Noam Chomsky that calls President Obama’s drone killings “the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times.” And as does Seamus Milne’s piece in the Guardian pointing out that violence like the Paris attack is an extension of Western wars.

Yet these pieces are still relatively kind to the United States and its allies. They downplay the role of the West in producing the violence that its “thought leaders” blame on Islam. The truth is not merely that Team USA’s violence is far greater than that of its enemies, or that the former triggers the latter, but that Western governments and their client states have actively empowered right-wing jihadist groups.

Jump!

Feb 02 2015

On This Day In History February 2

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.

February 2 is the 33rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 332 days remaining until the end of the year (333 in leap years).

On this day in 1925, dog sleds reach Nome, Alaska with diphtheria serum, inspiring the Iditarod race.

During the 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the “Great Race of Mercy,” 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs relayed diphtheria antitoxin 674 miles (1,085 km) by dog sled across the U.S. territory of Alaska in a record-breaking five and a half days, saving the small city of Nome and the surrounding communities from an incipient epidemic. Both the mushers and their dogs were portrayed as heroes in the newly popular medium of radio, and received headline coverage in newspapers across the United States. Balto, the lead sled dog on the final stretch into Nome, became the most famous canine celebrity of the era after Rin Tin Tin, and his statue is a popular tourist attraction in New York City’s Central Park. The publicity also helped spur an inoculation campaign in the U.S. that dramatically reduced the threat of the disease.

The sled dog was the primary means of transportation and communication in subarctic communities around the world, and the race became both the last great hurrah and the most famous event in the history of mushing, before first aircraft in the 1930s and then the snowmobile in the 1960s drove the dog sled almost into extinction. The resurgence of recreational mushing in Alaska since the 1970s is a direct result of the tremendous popularity of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which honors the history of dog mushing with many traditions that commemorate the serum run.

Epidemic

The only doctor in Nome and the surrounding communities was Curtis Welch, who was supported by four nurses at the 24-bed Maynard Columbus Hospital. In the summer of 1924, his supply of 80,000 units of diphtheria antitoxin (from 1918) expired, but the order he placed with the health commissioner in Juneau did not arrive before the port closed.

Shortly after the departure of the last ship of the year, the Alameda,[when?] a two-year-old Alaska Native from the nearby village of Holy Cross became the first to display symptoms of diphtheria. Welch diagnosed it as tonsillitis, dismissing diphtheria because no one else in the child’s family or village showed signs of the disease, which is extremely contagious and can survive for weeks outside the body. The child died the next morning, and an abnormally large number of cases of tonsillitis were diagnosed through December, including another fatality on December 28, which is rare. The child’s mother refused to allow an autopsy. Two more Alaska Native children died, and on January 20 the first case of diphtheria was diagnosed in three-year-old Bill Barnett, who had the characteristic grayish lesions on his throat and in his nasal membranes. Welch did not administer the antitoxin, because he was worried the expired batch might weaken the boy, who died the next day.

On January 21, seven-year-old Bessie Stanley was diagnosed in the late stages of the disease, and was injected with 6,000 units of antitoxin. She died later that day. The same evening, Welch called Mayor George Maynard, and arranged an emergency town council meeting. Welch announced he needed at least one million units to stave off an epidemic. The council immediately implemented a quarantine, and Emily Morgan was appointed Quarantine Nurse.

On January 22, 1925, Welch sent a radio telegram via the Washington-Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System and alerted all major towns in Alaska including the governor in Juneau of the public health risk. A second to the U.S. Public Health Service in Washington, D.C. read:

“An epidemic of diphtheria is almost inevitable here STOP I am in urgent need of one million units of diphtheria antitoxin STOP Mail is only form of transportation STOP I have made application to Commissioner of Health of the Territories for antitoxin already STOP There are about 3000 white natives in the district”

Wings versus paws

At the January 24 meeting of the board of health superintendent Mark Summers of the Hammon Consolidated Gold Fields proposed a dogsled relay, using two fast teams. One would start at Nenana and the other at Nome, and they would meet at Nulato. His employee, the Norwegian Leonhard Seppala, was the obvious and only choice for the 630-mile (1,014 km) round trip from Nome to Nulato and back. He had previously made the run from Nome to Nulato in a record-breaking four days, won the All-Alaska Sweepstakes three times, and had become something of a legend for his athletic ability and rapport with his Siberian huskies. His lead dog Togo was equally famous for his leadership, intelligence, and ability to sense danger.

Mayor Maynard proposed flying the antitoxin by aircraft. In February 1924, the first winter aircraft flight in Alaska had been conducted between Fairbanks and McGrath by Carl Eielson, who flew a reliable De Havilland DH-4 issued by the U.S. Post Office on 8 experimental trips. The longest flight was only 260 miles (420 km), the worst conditions were – 10 F (- 23 C) which required so much winter clothing that the plane was almost unflyable, and the plane made several crash landings.

Aftermath

The death toll is officially listed as either 5, 6, or 7, but Welch later estimated there were probably at least 100 additional cases among “the Eskimo camps outside the city. The Natives have a habit of burying their children without reporting the death.” Forty-three new cases were diagnosed in 1926, but they were easily managed with the fresh supply of serum. (Salisbury, 2003, footnotes on page 235 and 243)

All participants received letters of commendation from President Calvin Coolidge, and the Senate stopped work to recognize the event. Each musher during the first relay received a gold medal from the H. K. Mulford company, and the territory awarded them each USD $25. Poems and letters from children poured in, and spontaneous fund raising campaigns sprang up around the country.

Gunnar Kaasen and his team became celebrities and toured the West Coast from February 1925 to February 1926, and even starred in a 30-minute film entitled Balto’s Race to Nome. A statue of Balto by Frederick Roth was unveiled in New York City’s Central Park during a visit on December 15, 1925. Balto and the other dogs became part of a sideshow and lived in horrible conditions until they were rescued by George Kimble and fund raising campaign by the children of Cleveland, Ohio. On March 19, 1927, Balto received a hero’s welcome as they arrived at their permanent home at the Cleveland Zoo. Because of age, Balto was euthanised on March 14, 1933 at the age of 14. He was mounted and placed on display in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.