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Vice President Joe Biden applauds and Speaker of the House John Boehner looks on as President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 28, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS)   -
Wouldn't it be great it President Obama concluded the state of the union with a symbolic display of international goodwill, vision, compassion, and leadership, by asking, "may God bless America and all the nations and peoples of the world?"

From the first time I ever heard a U.S. President deliver a State of the Union address, long ago as a child, the insularity of the "leader of the free world," and most powerful nation in the world saying only, "God bless America," has always seemed like a jolt of insularity, cultural narcissism, and lack of global vision - as well as a public relations shortfall.

It's made me feel like I might if invited over to another family's Thanksgiving dinner and the host ending the prayer with, "and may God bless his own family, leaving out the guest's familys - like an implied footnote -  "all the rest of you can roast in &^)&, or fend for yourselves."

"Hey, global putzes, we got ours, why don't you go get yours!"

Or worse, don't even bother sense from our view, "our God wouldn't bless the likes of you anyway." "We are the only 'chosen' people, the rest of you can bugger off!"

I know this is not really the intended message of leaving out a blessing for all the rest of the peoples of the world who we know are watching. I know the State of the Union is a message to the American Congress and people about the state of our affairs. But what a lack of easy grace.  How easy would it be to be generous - it would cost us nothing, but potentially gain a great deal of global goodwill at a time we all need as much more global goodwill as we can get.

And, be evidence that we might be capable of some higher level of social awareness than is sadly implied by leaving out the other 7.5 billion people on the planet we we ask for God's blessing, in a globally relevant event we know is broadcast and watched through-out the world.    

Especially this year, just after the tragic shooting in Paris, we know many through-out the world are looking for global leadership from whomever will rise to the challenge.


Do you support the idea of President Obama concluding the State of the Union address with "May God bless America and all the nations and peoples of the world?"

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NOAA - NCDC Oct 2014 global temperature anomalies
The World health organization predicts climate change will cause 250,000 extra deaths per year by 2030.

Of this figure, roughly 48,000 will be via diarrhea; 60,000 via malaria; 95,000 via under-nutrition during childhood; and 38,000 via heat exposure (the elderly mostly) — according to the new report.

“Our planet is losing its capacity to sustain human life in good health,” stated Dr Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO). “Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its most disturbing report to date, with a strong focus on the consequences for health.” ...

Dr Chan continued: “Debates about climate change are still not giving sufficient attention to the profound effects that climate variables have on health. Many of the world’s most worrisome diseases have transmission cycles that are profoundly shaped by conditions of heat and humidity and patterns of rainfall. As one important example, malaria parasites and the mosquitoes that transmit them are highly sensitive to climate variability, which has been repeatedly linked to epidemics.” ... “Other epidemic-prone diseases, like cholera, dengue, and bacterial meningitis, are likewise highly sensitive to climate variability. All of these diseases have a huge potential for social disruption and make huge logistical demands on response teams.”

NOAA - NCDC's Global Surface Temperature Anomalies earth temperature trends plot
Meanwhile, in their latest global Global Climate Analysis of October 2014, a National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration report indicates that the first 10 months of 2014 have been the hottest on record.

*   The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for October 2014 was the highest on record for October, at 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.1°F).

*   The global land surface temperature was 1.05°C (1.89°F) above the 20th century average of 9.3°C (48.7°F)—the fifth highest for October on record.

*   For the ocean, the October global sea surface temperature was 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 15.9°C (60.6°F) and the highest for October on record.

*  The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the January–October period (year-to-date) was 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.4°F). The first ten months of 2014 were the warmest such period on record.

With records dating back to 1880, the global temperature averaged across the world's land and ocean surfaces for October 2014 was the highest on record for the month, at 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average. This also marks the third consecutive month and fifth of the past six with a record high global temperature for its respective month (July was fourth highest). ...

The global oceans were the warmest on record for October, with a temperature that averaged 0.62°C (1.12°F) higher than the 20th century average. This marks the sixth month in a row (beginning in May 2014) that the global ocean temperature broke its monthly temperature record. October 2014 also ties with June 2014 for the third highest ocean temperature departure on average for any month on record; the second highest departure from average occurred in August 2014 and the all-time highest occurred just last month.

With scientific reports such as this coming in on a regular basis, how long will it take climate change deniers to feel the heat of being on the hot-seat of debate and wake up to our new realities of global warming?

We need to take urgent political actions to reduce fossil fuel emissions. With the Republicans now in control of both the House and Senate it is more incumbent on Senator Mitch McConnell and Speaker John Boehner than ever to demonstrate true leadership and reject the zealous anti-science ideologue extremists on their right and advance legislation to protect our planet and future generations.

President Obama has shown courage, leadership and insight in advancing policies to fight global warming. Now that Republicans have control of congress, history will record that the responsibility for any failures to take the appropriate actions to ameliorate global warming will rest soundly on their shoulders.  

I challenge and call upon the Republican leadership to propose their plans for dealing with global warming and also demand that the media stop giving politicians who refuse to deal with reality and profess climate denial or climate "mutism" a free pass. Climate change is not a political game, but a dangerous crisis, and real and present danger. People are dying.

Our Washington political leaders need to lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way.

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The head of a certain Federal intelligence bureau, he secretly gathered information on innocent Americans, including politicians, movie stars, Vietnam war protesters, women’s rights advocates, even Albert Einstein. ..It was supposed to be “for national security”, but instead, he used it to blackmail and extort everyone fromregular people like you and me, to top government officials and public figures like the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr..He abused this illegal power, using phone records, personal mail, and personal habits, to create a massive, corrupt agency, with no accountability, secret off-the-books budgets, that violated the rights of Americans..This doesn’t remind me of any agency of national security that’s reading my post, right now.We can trust government to secretly spy on us, today
In a story with implications about the public's easy acceptance of handing over unprecedented and widespread powers to our intelligence agencies, Eric Lichtblau, of the New York Times, reports that In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis, and continued to conceal documents and evidence proving the extent of collaboration with Nazi's even into the 1990s. This report suggests the CIA and FBI has continue to conceal knowledge of the extent of such activities even until today, as some are still living in the U.S., or this story would not headline news.

We've heard many such reports going back to even the 1960, however, this report indicates the magnitude and duration of such deceptions was far greater and longer than previously suggested provide timely additional proof that Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees are not up to the task of controlling our vastly expanded and sprawling intelligence agencies in their deceptions of Congress, each other, and the public.

At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, law enforcement and intelligence leaders like J. Edgar Hoover at the F.B.I. and Allen Dulles at the C.I.A. aggressively recruited onetime Nazis of all ranks as secret, anti-Soviet “assets,” declassified records show. They believed the ex-Nazis’ intelligence value against the Russians outweighed what one official called “moral lapses” in their service to the Third Reich.

The agency hired one former SS officer as a spy in the 1950s, for instance, even after concluding he was probably guilty of “minor war crimes.”

Well gee whiz, if they were only "minor war crimes," ... what are a few minor war crimes between fellow spies? (Snark alert.) Or should we ask, "what are a few 'minor moral lapses between fellow war criminals?"  

Except, in the case of Aleksandras Lileikis, his "minor war crime" was major involvement with machine gun massacres of 60,000 Jews in Lithuania which some in the C.I.A. were concerned might be considered a "moral impediment." But not of sufficient magnitude to prevent a mutually beneficial relationship including help immigrating to the U.S.. as a "reward for services, or to prevent the C.I.A. from pressuring prosecutors to drop an investigation into his activities according to one source. I guess after the fire bombing of Dresden and dropping nuclear bombs on the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this might seem of lessor concern.

In another case the offered the reasoning for suppressing disclosure including the worn out refrain of “protecting the confidentiality of such sources of information to the fullest possible extent.” Although this may sound absurd in this case as World War II was over 60 year ago, I presume the concern is that if someone in the future ever invents a time machine, they could go back in time and "spill the beans." (Snark alert!) This would be consistent with the F.B.I. current policy of insisting that there be no time limits what-so-ever in National Security Letters. I can think of no other more plausible reason that makes sense. Other than perhaps protecting the agencies against embarrassment and public awareness of how recurring the themes of corruption, abuse of power, and secrecy traveling together are in our history.


In 1968, Mr. Hoover authorized the F.B.I. to wiretap a left-wing journalist who wrote critical stories about Nazis in America, internal records show. Mr. Hoover declared the journalist, Charles Allen, a potential threat to national security. ...

John Fox, the bureau’s chief historian, said: “In hindsight, it is clear that Hoover, and by extension the F.B.I., was shortsighted in dismissing evidence of ties between recent German and East European immigrants and Nazi war crimes. It should be remembered, though, that this was at the peak of Cold War tensions.”

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. A principle we should keep in mind as our political leaders sweep aside constitutional protections at the "peak of tensions in the 'war on terror.'". Those who seek security over individual freedoms will always find some urgent rational to justify their transgressions.

It turns out that many of these Nazi collaborators turned out to be incompetent, or "even worse, ... habitual liars, confidence men or embezzlers, and a few even turned out to be Soviet double agents, the records show."

I'm shocked, truly shocked to discover former major Nazi war criminals were not up to the high moral standards of the C.I.A. and F.B.I. Once observer noted admitting such men to our country was not "consistent with our values as a country.”

Sadly, and with foreboding with regard to the current Patriot Act extensions, such actions were completely consistent with our values as a country and if we do not wake up, realize this, and reign in sweeping expansions of government secrecy and the role back of 4th Amendment and other constitutional role backs we may never even learn of future transgressions.

Mr. Breitman said the morality of recruiting ex-Nazis was rarely considered. “This all stemmed from a kind of panic, a fear that the Communists were terribly powerful and we had so few assets,” he said.

Using fear of nefarious, urgent, outside threats is such a common tactic of government control, even Mao Tse Tung's Red Book provides explicit instructions of how to manufacture fear to whip populations into control.

Just consider the "magnitude of our current" terror about terrorism. Over a decade ago we lost over 3,500 people in the twin terror attacks and became so terrorized expanded military spending by trillions, overrode 4th Amendment and other constitutional guarantees, and authorized unprecedented domestic surveillance.

Yet, 25,000 a year die of anti-biotic resistant diseases, half a million a year from heart disease and cancer, more than 30,000 in auto accidents and we accept these risks as a normal part of life in a complicated world.

Show a picture of a member of the Islamic State decapitating a journalist and we are ready to give our government free reign to do anything they need to do to protect us, and many are even willing to give them carte blanc to send troops back into Iraq for another war.

Perhaps, we should think about this some more.


How confident are you that we can trust the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, the Executive branch, Congress, and the Judicial branch to protect our Constitutional rights and liberties while also upholding the highest American moral standards?

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Jack Bruce, bass play from Cream
YouTube link to Cream's Sunshine of Your Love for IPad readers who cannot see embedded video

Peter Keenews of the New York times brings us the sad news of the death of Jack Bruce, the bass player and lead vocalist for Cream, and Blind Faith who died in his home at 71 from a liver disease. In Cream he teamed up with Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker to form on the the first and most famous of the "power trios," who did songs link Crossroads, and Spoonful.

“Those original blues records had been done so well, which meant you could only ever be second best,” Mr. Bruce was quoted in the booklet for a 1997 Cream compilation CD. “But if you treated those songs with a great deal of love and respect, you could remake them into your own.”

There were also many original compositions in Cream’s repertoire, most of them — including the hits “Sunshine of Your Love,” “I Feel Free” and “White Room” — written by Mr. Bruce, usually with lyrics by the poet Pete Brown. (“Sunshine,” the group’s biggest hit, was a rare Bruce-Brown-Clapton collaboration.)

Mr. Bruce did most of the singing, in a polished tenor that could be both powerful and plaintive, and his fluid playing provided a solid counterpoint to Mr. Baker’s explosive drumming and Mr. Clapton’s guitar pyrotechnics. His inventive introductions to songs like “Badge” were an essential part of Cream’s sound. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd recently called Mr. Bruce “probably the most musically gifted bass player who’s ever been.”

Sunshine of Your Love, Youtube link

How sad to see an era passing. My era, most of our era.  I grew up heavily influence by the music and culture of the 60s and 70s and it hard to believe those days are becoming ancient history so fast.

I recommend this excellent article for a moving history of Jack Bruce's life.

May he rest in peace.


Does the passing of Jack Bruce bring back sad and wistful feelings for you of the 1960s?

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Ebola virus particles exude from infected cell
Kaci Hickox reports in the Dailas News that a nurse who has been treating Ebola patients for Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone is complaining that she is being held in mandatory quarantine even though she negative for Ebola, in the article entitled, UTA grad isolated at New Jersey hospital as part of Ebola quarantine. She provides a first person account of the treatment she received from U.S. border patrol authorities on her return from Western Africa.

(Editor’s note: Kaci Hickox, a nurse with degrees from the University of Texas at Arlington and the Johns Hopkins University, has been caring for Ebola patients while on assignment with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone. Upon her return to the U.S. on Friday, she was placed in quarantine at a New Jersey hospital. She has tested negative in a preliminary test for Ebola, but the hospital says she will remain under mandatory quarantine for 21 days and will be monitored by public health officials. Dr. Seema Yasmin, a Dallas Morning News staff writer, worked with Hickox as a disease detective with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With Yasmin’s help, Hickox wrote this first-person piece exclusively for the News.)

Here are just a few snippets of her tale of woe which is worth quick read in its entirety.

I am scared about how health care workers will be treated at airports when they declare that they have been fighting Ebola in West Africa. I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganization, fear and, most frightening, quarantine. ...

After many hours at the airport and her normal temperature, she became flushed so a skin monitor indicated she had a fever, even though she apparently did not, so she was escorted to University Hospital in Newark by eight police cars. Where doctors took her temperature and found it to be normal. Her Ebola blood test came back negative. She will remain in quarantine for 21 days, nevertheless.

I sat alone in the isolation tent and thought of many colleagues who will return home to America and face the same ordeal. Will they be made to feel like criminals and prisoners?
I recalled my last night at the Ebola management center in Sierra Leone. I was called in at midnight because a 10-year-old girl was having seizures. I coaxed crushed tablets of Tylenol and an anti-seizure medicine into her mouth as her body jolted in the bed.
It was the hardest night of my life. I watched a young girl die in a tent, away from her family. ...

The epidemic continues to ravage West Africa. Recently, the World Health Organization announced that as many as 15,000 people have died from Ebola. We need more health care workers to help fight the epidemic in West Africa. The U.S. must treat returning health care workers with dignity and humanity.

We are lucky to have such courageous medical professionals wiling to risk their lives to care for the infected and try to contain this epidemic in Western African. Certainly, we can do better than this in how we treat returning heroes.  

In Experts: Quarantines may dissuade Ebola volunteers, Yamiche Alcindor,  of USA TODAY, reports that experts are raising concerns the that latest round of much stricter quarantine policies may "discourage health workers from volunteering in the impacted West African countries, thereby making the outbreak harder to contain." Also, members of the general public may be incentivized to hide or downplay symptoms, undermining the effectiveness of our containment strategy.

New York, New Jersey and Illinois announced mandatory 21-day quarantines for those arriving back in the United States after having direct contact with Ebola-infected individuals in West Africa. The outbreak — the largest in history — has left more than 10,000 people infected and nearly 5,000 dead, the World Health Organization announced Saturday.

"It may be politically the obvious thing to do but it may well be counterproductive," said Stephen Morse, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University. "If people are forced to quarantine for three weeks that means most of them will not be able to do any sort of work and that means essentially lost income." ...

"We need to rethink this with science and reason," said Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, located in New York City's Upper East Side. "It's going to discourage health care workers from going out to the source, which is where we need to be."

We need to think very carefully about these quarantine policies and the potential unintended side-effects or discouraging help workers from aid Ebola cases, and also the potential for discouraging respondents from honestly reporting their symptoms.

Also, whatever we end up doing with regard to border questionnaires, quarantines, testing, etc. we should do so in respectful and compassionate ways with more attention to the easy things such as food, water, basic physical comfort, communication with relatives, and honest timely information about what is happening.

Perhaps, we need to have a patients advocate or ombudsperson present until we can work the kinks out of our systems, policies, and get our people trained and up to speed on our changing policies and protocols.

As always our hearts go out to all afflicted with Ebola and other infectious diseases, and their families and loved ones. Also, our special thanks and appreciation to all of the courageous health workers and others who heroically step up to care for the ill with compassion, even at great risk to themselves.

Here we see examples where even small, easy to offer gestures of compassion, and thoughtfulness for our fellow citizens can make such an enormous difference to their experiences as we all endeavor to adapt and learn how best to respond to this global  health challenge. Many others are bigger. Many more people die of Lassa fever,  malaria, and dozens of other infectious diseases, however, Ebola has captured out attention now, so reflecting on how we can improve our response is an opportunity and challenge worthy of our attention.  


Do you believe nurse Kaci Hickox ought to be quarantined for 21 days after treating Ebola patients in Western Africa even though she has no symptoms and has tested negative for the virus?

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Global on fire
Barbara Lewis and Alastair MacDonald report the good news that the EU Agrees To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cuts. The new goals amount to a 40% cut, below the benchmark 1990 levels by 2030, after the EU has already mostly achieved the previous goal of a 20% cut by 2020.

Talks in Brussels stretched into the small hours of Friday as Poland battled to spare its coal industry and other states tweaked the guideline text on global warming to protect varied economic interests, from nuclear plants and cross-border power lines to farmers whose livestock belch out polluting methane.

In the end, an overall target was agreed for the 28-nation bloc to cut its emissions of carbon in 2030 by at least 40 percent from levels in the benchmark year of 1990. An existing goal of a 20-percent cut by 2020 has already been nearly met, in part due to the collapse of communist-era industry in the east. ...  

But environmentalists had already complained that it could still leave the EU struggling to make the at least 80-percent cut by 2050 that its own experts say is needed to limit the rise in global average temperatures to two degrees Celsius.

EU leaders challenged the U.S. and China to step up to the plate and commit to this level of cuts by next December's climate summit in France.

This is an encouraging step in the right direction but all countries are going to have to become more ambitious than this pretty darn quickly.

I am reminded of that scene from the old Beverly Hillbillies program where Jed comes upon Jethro, who is making a dramatic show of chopping firewood with little actual progress. Jed says, "I see a lot of chopping, but few chips a flying."

We are going to need much bigger cuts than these to reach the goal of cutting greenhouse gases by 80% to stay within our goal of limiting global warming to 2 degress Celsius.


Do you support the goal of trying to restrain average global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius by 2050?

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Heat from the largest Kelvin wave ever seen along the equator in the Pacific ocean has moved poleward, heating the subtropical and temperate Pacific waters.
Tom McDonnell writes in Mother Jones that This New Study Explains Why Fracking Won't Solve Climate Change Even if we solve the methane problem, shale gas alone won't save us.

A new study published today in Nature "finds that natural gas is essentially useless as a climate solution unless it is buttressed by new policies that discourage carbon pollution and promote investment in renewable energy." This includes the natural gas coming from fracking.

"In the absence of policies that help natural gas play a positive role, you won't make things much better," said Jae Edmonds, Chief Scientist at the Joint Global Change Research Institute and one of the study's lead authors. "It's kind of a wash."

The specific outcomes vary, but all five models tell the same story: By 2050, global temperatures rise beyond the internationally agreed-upon limit of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in both the "conventional" and "abundant" scenarios. In other words, simply using more natural gas, even as it displaces far dirtier coal, has an almost negligible effect on climate change.

There are two reasons for that: First, cheap gas also takes market share away from clean energy. Even though gas's carbon footprint is about half that of coal, it's obviously not as low as sources like wind, solar, or nuclear, and is therefore never an adequate permanent substitute for them. Second, the combination of cheap gas and no new energy efficiency policies means total energy consumption goes up. Together, these two effects offset any carbon savings that result from a move away from coal. ...

One interesting finding is that inexpensive natural gas not only displaces dirty coal burning but also clean renewable energy, ie. low carbon alternatives. In one scenario low cost natural gas displaced "18 percent of coal and 17 percent of low-carbon sources," by 2050.

Chock up another study indicating that solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy are the way to go in order to ameliorate global warming. We know we are not converting to clean renewable fast enough and we will need much more aggressive policy intervention by governments across the globe.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey speaking at an event hosted by The McCain Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.
Here's a little Christie tidbit for addicts waiting for more substantial stories about Governor Christie's trials and tribulations. Or should I say "lack of trials" as we do not even have indictments yet. In Poll: More NJ Residents Have Negative View Of Gov. Chris Christie, Who Vows To Never Seek Office There Again, we learn that the latest poll of New Jersey residents show most have a negative view of Christie.

New Brunswick, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A new poll finds more state residents have a negative view of Republican Gov. Chris Christie for the first time since August 2011.
The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released Tuesday finds that only 42 percent of registered voters have a favorable view of the governor and 45 percent have an unfavorable view. That’s a seven-point drop in two months.

David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, says it’s the lowest favorability rating recorded since Christie took office. He says the poll shows that Christie is losing support after having rebounded following the George Washington Bridge scandal.

The poll of 842 New Jersey residents contacted on landlines and cellphones from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5 has a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.

Despite wave after wave of negative news Christie seems intent on staying on the campaign trail.

Matt Arco and Brittney Davies of NJ Advance Media
Travelin' man: Chris maintains his out-of-state travel rate since our last check.

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie’s travels as chairman of the Republican Governors Association has shown no signs of slowing in the lead-up to the November elections.

The governor will have spent all or part of 94 days — more than a third of his second term — out of state as of the end this week. While the count also includes non-RGA travel, the bulk of the days spent outside of New Jersey have been to stump for GOP gubernatorial candidates.

The RGA, which helps elect and reelect GOP officials across the country, also announced today it raised a record-breaking $90 million since Christie took the reins as the group’s chairman in November.

36 states will have elections for Governor in three weeks.

So please make sure you, and all of your friends and loved ones are registered to vote and plan on coming out on election day.

Do your realize how sad it will be it you/we let Chris Christie do more to affect the November elections than we do?

Don't let this happen to you and us. Get out and vote!

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Ebola viruses escaping from infected cell.
Josh Levs and Holly Yan, of CNN report Second U.S. health worker infected with Ebola flew the day before symptoms, the CDC is trying to contact 132 passengers on a plane the nurse traveled on the day before she showed symptoms, and President Obama has cancelled his scheduled trip to New Jersey and Connecticut to hold an emergency cabinet meeting on the topic.

"Because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning, CDC is reaching out to passengers who flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth Oct. 13," the CDC said in a statement. The flight landed Monday at 8:16 p.m. CT.

The C.D.C. call seems to be a "surplus of caution" because their protocols presume the Ebola virus cannot be spread until the patient shows symptoms.

However, doubts have been raised as to why the protocols for Personal Personal Equipment in remote poor field hospitals in Western African are higher than those established for health care workers in the United States.

The woman "exhibited no symptoms or sign of illness while on flight 1143, according to the crew," Frontier Airlines said in a statement.

Nevertheless the CDC is asking passengers who were on Frontier Airlines  Flight 1143 to call the CDC and the airline said the airplane was "cleaned" before the next flight with their standard cleaning, but they have now taken the airplane out of service.

The airline said customers who may have traveled on either flight should contact the CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636). But the CDC statement referred only to passengers on the October 13 flight.

The October 13 flight was cleaned thoroughly after it landed, "per our normal procedures which is consistent with CDC guidelines," the airline said. After the airline was informed of the Ebola patient, the plane was removed from service.

CNN Elizabeth Cohen has also raised question as to why a person on the watch list for treating Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of Ebola in the Texas Presbyterian Health Hospital was allowed to fly.

Questions have also been raised about whether Duncan, and other Ebola patients ought to be transferred to one of the nations four hospitals with special rooms and staff trained to treat such infectious diseases once identified as having Ebola.

Nurses unions are demanding a higher level of training and equipment.

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President Barack Obama shows Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the private residence of the White House, July 20, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Patrick Wintour, of the Guardian writes MPs vote to recognise Palestinian state, adding to pressure on Israel. The non-binding vote is more symbolic than substantive as Prime Minister David Cameron has already announced he will only change British foreign policy when he feels like it is best for the prospects of peace, but this vote does indicate the strong direction of a change in British public opinion.  

The vote of 274 to 12, a majority of 262, on a backbench motion has no practical impact on British government policy and ministers were instructed not to vote. Labour decided to impose a one-line whip, and the Liberal Democrats, like the Conservatives, gave their backbenchers a free vote.

In an emotional moment in the debate, Richard Ottoway, the Conservative chairmen of the foreign affairs select committee said the report of Israel's annexation of more land in the West Bank angered him a great deal.

The Conservative MP said he had been a supporter of the state of Israel before he became a Tory and had close family connections with the generation that formed the Israeli state. He explained: “The Holocaust had a deep impact on me growing up in the wake of the second world war,” adding that he had been a strong supporter of Israel in the six day war and subsequent conflicts.

He told MPs: “Looking back over the past 20 years, I realise now Israel has slowly been drifting away from world public opinion. The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life. It has made me look a fool and that is something I deeply resent.”

He said he was not yet convinced that Palestine was fit to be a state due to its refusal to recognise Israel, adding that “in normal circumstances” he would have opposed the motion. But, he said, “such is my anger with the behaviour of Israel in recent months that I will not be opposing this motion. I have to say to the government of Israel: if it is losing people like me, it is going to be losing a lot of people.”

Former foreign secretary Jack Straw spoke for many when he noted that the current policy of saying Palestinians will only receive recognition at the conclusion of a peace agreement with Israel was effectively giving Prime Minister Netanyahu a veto over the creation of the Palestinian state.

An earlier article in Haaretz indicated Prime Minister Cameron would abstain from the vote: Cameron to abstain from Palestine recognition vote

The spokesman said the vote, called by an opposition lawmaker, would not change Britain's diplomatic stance. Britain does not classify Palestine as a state, but says it could do so at any time if it believed it would help peace efforts between the Palestinians and Israel.

The debate comes just as Sweden's new center-left government is set to recognise officially Palestine -- a move that has been condemned by Israel, which says an independent Palestine can only be achieved through negotiations.

The British parliamentary motion, which is expected to come to a vote around 9:00 P.M. GMT, states: "That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel."

Hundreds of Israeli Public Figures Call Upon Members of the British Parliament to Vote in Favor of Recognizing the State of Palestine by Gush Shalom, of  Global Research reports support even within Israelfrom the left.

363 Israeli public figures have signed a letter to the Members of the British Parliament, calling upon them to vote in favor of British recognition of a Palestinian State, to be created side-by-side with Israel.  

The letter reads:

“We, Israelis who worry and care for the well-being of the state of Israel, believe that the long-term existence and security of Israel depends on the long-term existence and security of a Palestinian state. For this reason we, the undersigned, urge members of the UK Parliament to vote in favor of the motion to be debated on Monday 13th October 2014, calling on the British Government to recognize the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel “.

Signatories include:

Nobel Prize Laureate (Economics) Daniel Kahneman
Six Laureates of the Israel Prize – Professors Alice Levy, David Har’el, Shimon Sandbank, Yehoshua Kolodny, Yona Rosenfeld and Yoram Bilu;
Two former ministers – Ran Cohen and Yossi Sarid, as well as four former Knesset Members – Uri Avnery, Yael Dayan, Mossi Raz and Naomi Chazan;
Former Ambassador and Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Dr. Alon Liel, as well as former Ambassador Ilan Baruch;
Gen. (ret.) Emanuel Shaked, former of the Paratooper Corps;
Former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair;
Four writers – Yehoshua Sobol, Yehudit Kafri, Savyon Liebrecht and Amos Mokadi;
Professor Rafi Walden, Deputy Ditector of the Shiba Hospital and Chair of “Physicians for Human Rights”
Yuval Rahamim, Co-Chair of “Bereaved Families for Palestinian-Israeli Peace” and the grouop’s founder Yitzhak Frankenthal;

Now that Prime Minister Netanyahu has categorically rejected the prospect of a truly independent Palestinian state it appears to me that only hope left for those that support a peaceful two-state solution is to dramatically change the playing field and ground assumptions.

If we want a two-state solution then the first step is to recognize the Palestinian state with President Abbas as its leader and declare that unless both countries agree to land swaps, the pre 1967 will be the default. Then the U.N. or other international body,  should accept President Abbas' call for them to replace the I.D.F. forces on Palestinian territory. If Israel refuses, then major global sanctions, including limits to trade, banking, and travel can be imposed by the majority of the 122 nations that have already recognized Palestine in bilateral agreements. Over 145 or so countries voted for Palestine to be accepted to the U.N. General Assembly, despite the U.S. veto in the Security Council.

The advantage of this plan is does not require the blessing of either the United States or Israel, neither of which has shown any real interest in supporting a Palestinian state.  

Let's hope this is a step in the right direction. The Palestinian's could help their cause a great deal if they pressured Hamas to change its charter which apparently still contains the out-dated denial of Israel's right to exist even behind the 1967 borders.

But, many have written recently that it is already too late for a two-state solution and that Israel has already de-facto annexed East Jerusalem and the West Bank. So Palestinians ought to be agitating instead for full citizenship, equal rights, and the right to vote forcing Israel to choose between being a democracy or a Jewish State.

Perhaps, a wide-spread global movement to immediately recognize Palestine will help bring this idea back to life, leading to a possibility of both Palestinians self-determination and the preservation of the idea of a Jewish State within the 1967 borders.


Do you support the British MP's call for immediate recognition of Palestine as perhaps the only remaining way to revive the possibility of a peaceful two-state solution?

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Continue Reading
St. Johns the Evangelist Catholic Church by Mike Leakey Flickr CC
Nicole Winfield, of the Associated Press reports Bishops Say Gays Have Gifts to Offer Church, in an issues document reporting the mid-way state of discussions in a two-week event called The Synod.

... there are "positive" aspects to a couple living together without being married. ... No decisions were announced, but the tone of the preliminary document was one of almost-revolutionary acceptance, rather than condemnation, with the aim of guiding Catholics toward the ideal of a lasting marriage.

The bishops said gays had "gifts and qualities" to offer and asked rhetorically if the church was ready to provide them a welcoming place, "accepting and valuing their sexual orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony." ...

"This is a stunning change in the way the Catholic church speaks of gay people," said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit author. "The Synod is clearly listening to the complex, real-life experiences of Catholics around the world, and seeking to address them with mercy, as Jesus did."

Sadly, the bishops stop short of acknowledging the full human rights of the GLBT by saying that acceptance of "gay marriage was off the table."

Winfield also tell us the bishops are also calling for a 're-reading' of the section of the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae describing the church's opposition to birth control. My understanding is that the church does allow for the use of condom to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, however, I am not certain of this.  

In my later years I've become a scientific humanist and try to respect all the major religions to the degree that it is possible while still maintaining a full commitment to basic human rights, human decency, and progressive values.

While I'm greatly encouraged at the progress and refreshing spirit of change we are seeing under the new Pope Francis, I am also aware that many here will feel that this is way overdue, and about time. And, I will also agree with some who I expect will also rightly ask when will the church acknowledge the equality of all people.

So let me apologize if I seem awkward in trying to straddle between congratulating and encouraging the spirit of long-overdue change and modernization of church views, under the new Pope, which can be political important in our big-tent Democratic coalition, while at the same time articulating a call and even demand for complete equality for all people including the GLBT and their rights to marriage equality.

We are in the 21st century after all, and the church still has not fully complied with all local laws and enforcement efforts with regard to prosecuting pedophile priests, and the church still will not let women be priests, just as two examples of an ongoing outstanding issues many of us who identify as progressive Democrats still have.  

Still, I believe in acknowledging progress and granting credit where credit is due. And, also remind skeptics that 1.5 billion of the worlds people are Catholic, and so are many of our valued Democratic voters in swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.

And speaking as someone who has not yet achieved anything close to spiritual or moral perfection myself, my I suggest we congratulate these small steps in the right direction while maintaining a call for full equality and modernization. And, also remind ourselves that many Catholic groups such as Sisters on A Bus are among our strongest advocates for social justice, income equality, and ending hunger, and poverty.

It's difficult for me to understand how they can remain so committed to an institution which seems not to fully value them and their contributions, however, I do not understand many others here, and elsewhere, I also wish to value, treat with respect, and continue to be allies with in our Democratic Party and progressive causes.  

I hope I can speak for more than just a few when I say we value these contributions from such allies in our efforts towards a more just society. I also apologize to some other allies who may feel I am not sufficiently criticizing severe short-comings on basic issues of human rights and compliance with the rule-of-law.

Whichever side you tend towards, let me encourage all of us to redouble our efforts and join together to work towards achieving liberty, justice, and equality for all people. Which include full support for marriage equality for all people.


Are you encouraged that Catholic bishops at The Synod are issuing a supportive statement about the positive contributions and gifts brought to us by 'gays?"

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NIH Funding from 1990 to 2014
Sam Stein reports Ebola Vaccine Would Likely Have Been Found By Now If Not For Budget Cuts: NIH Director

Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has "slowed down" research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe.

"NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It's not like we suddenly woke up and thought, 'Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'" Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. "Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready."

It's not just the production of a vaccine that has been hampered by money shortfalls. Collins also said that some therapeutics to fight Ebola "were on a slower track than would've been ideal, or that would have happened if we had been on a stable research support trajectory."

"We would have been a year or two ahead of where we are, which would have made all the difference," he said.

While I certainly don't wish to introduce a political or partisan angle to this tragic outbreak, especially during the election season, (snark alert "I'm shocked, truly shocked to discover partisan politics occurring here on Daily Kos during the election season, ... and by me, no less!"), the consequences of the Paul Ryan - Republican austerity approach, aka "we want a government so small we can drown it in a bathtub" couldn't be more apparent.

Right here, right now we have evidence of how cutting essential budgets is leaving unprepared and off-stride for this crisis in a way that is costing lives.  

The NIH's "purchasing power is down 23 from what it was a decade ago."  

An even more dire  situation exists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is a subdivision of NIH.

Paul Ryan and the Republican austerity extremists talk about budget cuts in the abstract as if they are doing "good things." Here we see the reality of what these cuts can mean in real life. Would we not be remiss not to mention this?

Collins also puts the Ebola outbreak in perspective by reminding us that 50,000 people will contract HIV this year and more people will die in one day of HIV than of Ebola in its known history.

Meanwhile concern over how the nurse at Texas Presbyterian Health Hospital became infected with Ebola even though she says she followed the proper protocol. One representative of a national nurses union complained of a "blaming the victim" mentality - criticizing the C.D.C. leadership for talking as if it is the nurse's fault for "breaching protocols," that she may not have been properly trained on how to strictly adhere to.


Do you think Majority Leader Harry Reid ought to introduce an emergency supplemental budget restoring funding for the N.I.H., N.S.F, C.D.C., and W.H.O. (via the UN budget) to its original trajectory?

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