July 10, 2013 archive

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A rather scary link about a long-debunked and tossed out fallacy :

Hey, everybody:

There’s a very nascent, albeit a very dangerous anti-vaccine movement that’s going through the United States right now;  the so-called “link” between vaccines and autism, created by the long discredited Dr. Andrew Wakefield (who lost his license to practice medicine due to the fraudulence of the movement he created, and well he should have!.), and the former nude model, Jenny McCarthy, who clearly knows nothing about anything (including medicine and science), except to tout her figure in public, if one gets the drift.  

What I find rather scary about it is the fact that the anti-Vaccine people, very much like the anti-abortion/anti-choice (supposedly) Pro-Life people, prey upon people’s fears and ignorance,  and, like the Pro-Life people who want abortions outlawed altogether here in the United States, want childhood immunizations/vaccines outlawed, due to their (supposed ) link to autism.  

Truthfully, other more trustworthy people have found that to not be the case.  More and more research has revealed autism  or ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), as it’s now called, to be a biologically-based, neurological developmental disorder (not a mental illness!), that takes hold while the person is in utero, during fetal development, well before the person afflicted with it comes into this world.  

My siblings and I were vaccinated against polio, pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria, for example, when we were young kids, and we all turned out fine.  What’s really scary is that the anti-vaccine people wouldn’t mind seeing the United States turn into a real third-world country, where tons of children either end up dying or being permanently disabled by such deadly diseases.  

I had measles and mumps (the diseases themselves), when I was a preteen, before the vaccines came out, was in bed for a week, (I had mumps on both sides at once, which hurt like hell, but I turned out fine), and the measles in 5th grade, both of which I developed an immunity to.  However, even these illnesses are more harmful today than they were, due to changes in the world and the environment, and the fact that so many parents are now refusing to vaccinate their kids because of their fear of autism, which they know nothing about, is really quite scary.

Even level-headed people are jumping on the band-wagon, which is even scarier.  

The following link is here:  Read it and weep…or gnash your teeth.  It’s rather scary, imho.



International Law?

U.S. Allies Violate Int. Law Pursuing Snowden

The Real News

July 7, 13

Well, you saw what happened on Tuesday. He wasn’t even on this plane. It was the presidential plane of Bolivia with the president on it. And in spite of the fact that this caused a major controversy between and conflict between the European countries and Latin America, and, of course, the U.S. and Latin America, they–France, Spain, and Portugal, and possibly other countries–grounded his plane. They forced him to turn back and go to Austria. They wouldn’t let him pass French or Spanish or Portuguese airspace.

So this was a very serious offense. I mean, you know, obviously it’s not as bad as killing somebody or something like that, but in the diplomatic world these conventions are rarely, rarely violated. It was like last year when the U.K. threatened to invade the Ecuadorian embassy. That was something that hadn’t been done for 50 or 100 years. I mean, you know, even the Nazis, you know, respected embassies when people were sheltered there in most cases. You know. So this is something that’s just not done. And the same is true about this event. This is something that just isn’t done. A president’s plane, which has diplomatic immunity, is not turned away, especially on the mere suspicion, which turned out to be false, that somebody the United States was looking for was on the plane. And this isn’t Osama bin Laden on the plane, either; this is somebody’s who’s just wanted for–well, for a crime that probably half the world doesn’t even consider a crime.

On This Day In History July 10

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

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.

July 10 is the 191st day of the year (192nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 174 days remaining until the end of the year.

1925, Scopes Monkey Trial begins,

In Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called “Monkey Trial” begins with John Thomas Scopes, a young high school science teacher, accused of teaching evolution in violation of a Tennessee state law.

The law, which had been passed in March, made it a misdemeanor punishable by fine to “teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” With local businessman George Rappalyea, Scopes had conspired to get charged with this violation, and after his arrest the pair enlisted the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to organize a defense. Hearing of this coordinated attack on Christian fundamentalism, William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Democratic presidential candidate and a fundamentalist hero, volunteered to assist the prosecution. Soon after, the great attorney Clarence Darrow agreed to join the ACLU in the defense, and the stage was set for one of the most famous trials in U.S. history.

On July 10, the Monkey Trial got underway, and within a few days hordes of spectators and reporters had descended on Dayton as preachers set up revival tents along the city’s main street to keep the faithful stirred up. Inside the Rhea County Courthouse, the defense suffered early setbacks when Judge John Raulston ruled against their attempt to prove the law unconstitutional and then refused to end his practice of opening each day’s proceeding with prayer.


The ACLU had originally intended to oppose the Butler Act on the grounds that it violated the teacher’s individual rights and academic freedom, and was therefore unconstitutional. Mainly because of Clarence Darrow, this strategy changed as the trial progressed, and the earliest argument proposed by the defense once the trial had begun was that there was actually no conflict between evolution and the creation account in the Bible (a viewpoint later called theistic evolution). In support of this claim, they brought in eight experts on evolution. Other than Dr. Maynard Metcalf, a zoologist from Johns Hopkins University, the judge would not allow these experts to testify in person. Instead, they were allowed to submit written statements so that their evidence could be used at the appeal. In response to this decision, Darrow made a sarcastic comment to Judge Raulston (as he often did throughout the trial) on how he had been agreeable only on the prosecution’s suggestions, for which he apologized the next day, keeping himself from being found in contempt of court.

The presiding judge John T. Raulston was accused of being biased towards the prosecution and frequently clashed with Darrow. At the outset of the trial Raulston quoted Genesis and the Butler Act. He also warned the jury not to judge the merit of the law (which would become the focus of the trial) but on the violation of the act, which he called a ‘high misdemeanor’. The jury foreman himself wasn’t convinced of the merit of the Act but acted, as did most of the jury, on the instructions of the judge.

By the later stages of the trial, Clarence Darrow had largely abandoned the ACLU’s original strategy and attacked the literal interpretation of the Bible as well as Bryan’s limited knowledge of other religions and science.

Only when the case went to appeal did the defense return to the original claim that the prosecution was invalid because the law was essentially designed to benefit a particular religious group, which would be unconstitutional.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Fudge 2


Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In the “you can’t make this stuff up” category, from Charles P. Pierce at Esquire’s Politics Blog:

Dear god, tell me nobody anywhere near this government can possibly be this stupid.

“It’s a crazy, strange and suspicious situation,” attorney Cary Schulman told The Cable. “It’s clear to me that it was somebody looking for information and not money. My most high-profile case right now is the Aurelia Fedenisn case, and I can’t think of any other case where someone would go to these great lengths to get our information.” According to the KDFW report, the firm was the only suite burglarized in the high-rise office building and an unlocked office adjacent was left untouched. The State Department, which has repeatedly disputed Fedenisn’s allegations, denied any involvement in the incident. “Any allegation that the Department of State authorized someone to break into Mr. Schulman’s law firm is false and baseless,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. After assessing the surveillance footage, Schulman said he believed the motivations were likely political, but did not suspect department involvement. “It wasn’t professional enough,” he said. “It is possible that an Obama or Hillary supporter feels that I am unfairly going after them. And the timing of this is right after several weeks of very public media attention so it seems to me most likely that the information sought is related to that case. I don’t know for sure and I want the police to do their work.”

I disagree with Charlie on the lawyers claim that Fedenisn’s whistleblowwer case is the firms’s “most high-profile case right now.”

“It’s a crazy, strange and suspicious situation,” attorney Cary Schulman told The Cable. “It’s clear to me that it was somebody looking for information and not money. My most high-profile case right now is the Aurelia Fedenisn case, and I can’t think of any other case where someone would go to these great lengths to get our information.”  

Any case involving a whistleblower and the Obama administration is clearly a very high profile case for any law firm.

However, I do agree that the State Department denial is pathetic.

The State Department, which has repeatedly disputed Fedenisn’s allegations, denied any involvement in the incident. “Any allegation that the Department of State authorized someone to break into Mr. Schulman’s law firm is false and baseless,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The burglary, as Charles pointed out, was rather amateurish since the fools not only didn’t disable the surveillance cameras but left everything in the office untouched except for the computers they stole.

Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Knowing how stupid some government civil service employees can be, anything is possible.

Global Spying By US Is An Outrage

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

At his blog, Glenn Greenwald posted that he had written an article for O Globo, the large Brazilian newspaper based in Rio de Janeiro revealing that millions of Brazilians emails and calls, too, had been scooped up by the US spy program. This followed on the news in Der Spiegel that gave a detailed account of the mass collection of data from the electronic communications of Germans. The Brazilian government is now demanding an explanation from the US.

The foreign minister, Antonio Patriota, expressed “deep concern” about a report that appeared in O Globo newspaper at the weekend, which detailed how the US National Security Agency (NSA) had conducted extensive spying activities in Brazil.

Based on documents provided by Snowden, the O Globo story showed how the US had been carrying out covert surveillance on ostensibly friendly nations. Similar reports in Europe and Hong Kong have sparked indignation in recent weeks.

After the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, called in cabinet ministers to discuss the issue, the government issued a statement of concern.

After the flight carrying Bolivian president Evo Morales was forced to land in Austria over the suspicion that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board, Bolivia and two other Latin American countries, Venezuela and Nicaragua have offered Snowden asylum. The offers spark some rather undiplomatic responses from elected officials on the Sunday talk shows. The most notable was from Sen. Robert Menedez (D-NJ) who, after calling for sanctions against the three countries, told Meet the Press‘s David Gregory:

“I’m not surprised by the countries that are offering him asylum,” Menendez said Sunday. “They like sticking it to the United States.”

The second half of Glenn Greenwald’s interview with Snowden that was taped in Hong Kong by Laura Poitras on 6 June 2013 was posted at The Guardian.

Edward Snowden: ‘The US government will say I aided our enemies’

Juan Cole had this to say about the NSA spying and the Obama administration

The general disappointment with the Obama administration on issues of surveillance, drone warfare, the surge in Afghanistan, extension of the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich, labor issues and the environment felt by anyone to the left of David Brooks appears to be a factor in Snowden’s whistleblowing. He must also have been frustrated to see Senators such as Ron Wyden (D-OR) muzzled and unable to tell the American people forthrightly what was troubling him about the secret interpretation of the USA Patriot Act (which is of course the most unpatriotic piece of legislation ever passed). Muzzling a sitting senator about an issue of clear public concern surely is unconstitutional. You can’t have a democracy that way. Snowden knew this and is trying to restore what we lost to the National Security Super-State.

Chronic Tonic- I’m Running Out Of Compartments

Originally published at VOTS

If I were to be asked to write a paragraph or two about my life, my current situation, I don’t know that I could do that. Yes, I could tell you in detail about this or that, but no, I don’t ever even think about all of it all at once, let alone lay it all out in black and white:  It’s called compartmentalization, and I’m somewhat of a gifted practitioner. I’m aware that this is a defense mechanism, and if taken to extremes, people can become detached to their own emotions, trust me.  That’s not my deal. In some situations, you need a defense, a way to get through, or you will not survive.

I have to get through, I’ve got people counting on me. I can’t sit and list every circumstance that affects me, because I’m not willing to voluntarily become overwhelmed. I’m not the type to be in up to my neck and look around for a deeper area to see how long I can tread water. Why would I do that? I gave in to my pain for years, and then I fought really hard to get my ass up out of that bed and make some kind of life for myself.  That was 12 years ago, and today I have a life. I have a husband and two gorgeous boys that I never dreamed I’d have, and that’s worth everything.

But I would be lying if I told you it’s been easy, it has not. And it seems that over the past several years, life keeps throwing us one curve ball after another. I’ve written about parts of it. We lost our place to live, and what was supposed to be a short stay with my parents while we got ourselves another place turned out to last, oh…forever. Our youngest was diagnosed on the ASD and the services here are great, and there’s a backyard, and we would have the chance to save up to maybe get a house. We were right back on track, right? Not so much.

It soon became clear that the forgetfulness we had noticed from my Mom was growing worse. Dad always accompanied her to the doctor, but when I asked him what the doctor made of this worsening memory thing, he admitted that he didn’t bring it up, too afraid Mom would be pissed. I said: “Um, you could call and go see him alone, you know?  You don’t have to tell him in front of her but you do have to tell him.” Still, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. I don’t know if it was that he was afraid of having what we suspected confirmed, feeling like he’d be betraying Mom.  It doesn’t matter. I consulted with my doctor (in the same practice) as to what to do. I asked if I could write her doc a note, was that allowed.  So, that’s how I wound up delivering a note with my concerns to my Mom’s doctor, and telling my dad afterwards. He was okay with it, maybe even relieved. I told him, “Hey. if it’s what we think, the sooner we can get her on medication, the better.” They said she had non-specific dementia, and it was then I knew I wasn’t going anywhere — I wouldn’t if I could.

That was over five years ago, and the hits keep right on coming. So, yes, I compartmentalize to a fare-thee-well. I’m not in denial and I handle what I need to handle. This doesn’t make me any kind of a saint, a martyr, or anything other than somebody who has learned to survive. Some days I need to take it an hour at a time, but I don’t allow myself to become miserable, my kids don’t deserve that, and neither does anybody else.

I do worry about what happens when I run out of compartments.~