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Archive for August 29th, 2014

Google Tests Delivery Drones in Australia

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 29th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Google Tests Delivery Drones in Australia
A Queensland, Australia, farm has become the unlikely testing ground of one of the most technologically advanced Google projects: autonomous drones that could potentially deliver anything from chocolate to life-saving medicines. Google’s X division tested Project Wing earlier this month, the first time “non-Googlers” had been involved. Google X director Astro Teller said Project Wing’s goal is ultimately to build a system for delivering small and medium sized packages within minutes to anyone using self-flying vehicles.


California mentally ill inmates get special units

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 29th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

California mentally ill inmates get special units
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — State corrections officials agreed Friday to shift mentally ill inmates into separate specialized housing that offer them more treatment instead of placing them in the same isolation units used for other inmates, a decision that marks a major shift in how the system deals with such prisoners.


When did the election season begin?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 29th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

When did the election season begin?
John Dickerson: It’s no longer Labor Day

Rick Perry seizes on Obama’s ISIS “strategy” remark
The Texas governor was among a handful of possible 2016 Republican presidential candidates featured at this year’s Americans for Prosperity summit

Russian fund with U.S. advisers escapes sanctions so far
The $10 billion Russian Direct Investment Fund has American and European private equity executives as advisers


Laura Ingraham Tells Radio Listeners That Obama Considers Them, Not Islamic State, The “True Enemy”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 29th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Laura Ingraham Tells Radio Listeners That Obama Considers Them, Not Islamic State, The “True Enemy”

From the August 29 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group’s The Laura Ingraham Show:

Previously:

AAJA And MPAC Demand Action After Fox Host Advocated For Violence Against Muslims

Muslim Leaders Have Roundly Denounced Islamic State, But Conservative Media Won’t Tell You That

Laura Ingraham Defies Reality, Suggests Muslim Leaders Haven’t Condemned ISIS Violence


The Importance of History

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 29th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

The Importance of History
Michael Gerson, RealClearPolitics
WASHINGTON — The monumental tapestry triptych by Marc Chagall, hanging in the State Hall of the Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem, hints at some of the artist’s own memories, including from his childhood in Vitebsk, Russia. But these float among images of Jewish history: of Moses with his tablets, of David with his harp. Images of wandering and vulnerability: a village burned, a dead body surrounded by six candles, standing in for 6 million. Images of return and security: pioneers, soldiers and a new flag among the nations. The viewer is immersed in the sweep of a great, inexplicable story — of…

Another Bad War in Iraq
Steve Chapman, RealClearPolitics
In fighting disease, aggressive action is not always advisable. Two years ago a federal panel recommended against routine use of a test for prostate cancer because it carries “a very small potential benefit and significant potential harms.” Some men get false positives, and many true positives lead to risky surgery for cancers that grow so slowly as to pose no threat. Then there is power morcellation, which uses a device to shred uterine fibroids. The Food and Drug Administration has warned against its use in hysterectomies because “there is a risk that the procedure will spread the cancerous…


Eurozone anxiety overshadows EU summit

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 29th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Eurozone anxiety overshadows EU summit
Why deciding top jobs is not key to EU summit

Summit ‘momentous’ in Wales’ history
First Minister Carwyn Jones says next week’s Nato summit in Newport will be a “momentous occasion in the history of Wales”.

Salmond: Eurosceptics ‘are damaging’
The Scottish first minister claims the “politics of Euroscepticism” at Westminster are “deeply damaging” for Scotland.


ObamaCare contract muddles Dem message on tax dodgers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 29th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

ObamaCare contract muddles Dem message on tax dodgers
Accenture, a contractor for HealthCare.gov, was once based in Bermuda and Switzerland.


Abercrombie Blames Historic Primary Loss On Gay Marriage

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 29th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Abercrombie Blames Historic Primary Loss On Gay Marriage
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said he lost his bid for re-election in a Democratic primary because of his decision to call a special session to legalize gay marriage.

Republicans are allowed to vote for Democrats in Hawaii’s open primary, and Abercrombie said they chose to vote against him because of his support for gay marriage and because they think his party rival, state Sen. David Ige, is an easier target to beat in the general election.

“Republicans crossed over en masse to vote in the Democratic primary, and then the religious factor came in,” Abercrombie said. “Doctrinally I was outside the circle and paid for it.” He argued that voters were urged to choose his opponent by their religious leaders.

Abercrombie, who spoke to reporters in his office, lost to Ige by a stunning 2-1 margin, the first time a Democratic governor has been unseated in a Hawaii primary.

But Abercrombie said losing was worth it to pass a law legalizing gay marriage.

“There’s no way I could live with myself if I thought I was diminishing another human being’s ability to reach their full capacity,” Abercrombie said.

Republican gubernatorial candidate James “Duke” Aiona said he’s flattered that Abercrombie thinks there are so many Republicans in Hawaii that they could have caused such a huge defeat.

In the primary, Abercrombie outspent Ige 10-1, pouring $5 million into campaign efforts and advertisements.

“I had more money than my opponent …raised more money, spent more money…but it didn’t do me any good,” Abercrombie said.

Abercrombie called a special session to vote on the gay marriage bill in November last year, and Ige was among those who supported the measure.

Aiona agreed that people were upset with how Abercrombie handled the decision to legalize gay marriage in the state. Thousands of people came out to testify against the bill to legalize gay marriage and asked for the opportunity to vote, but Abercrombie didn’t listen, Aiona said.

“It goes back to trust, respect and balance,” Aiona said. “That’s what the people wanted, he never gave it, and that’s why he lost.”

Voters interviewed at polling stations by The Associated Press did not mention gay marriage as their reason for voting for other candidates. Instead they complained about the way Abercrombie handled contract negotiations with teachers and his proposal to tax pensioners.

Ige’s campaign spokeswoman Lynn Kenton said “every candidate has the freedom to comment on their campaign, regardless of the outcome, and if that’s what Gov. Abercrombie feels was his weaknesses, that would be for him to determine.”

Walter Yoshimitsu, executive director of the Hawaii Catholic Conference, said he did not know whether religious leaders were urging a vote against Abercrombie. Yoshimitsu said his organization does not endorse or denounce political candidates because of its nonprofit status, but he said people were upset that Abercrombie called the special session instead of waiting a few months until the regular legislative session.

“We couldn’t have figured out what the urgency was,” Yoshimitsu said. “If he had dealt with it in the regular session, there would have been more time.”


News Analysis: 50 Days of War Leave Israelis and Palestinians Only More Entrenched

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 29th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

News Analysis: 50 Days of War Leave Israelis and Palestinians Only More Entrenched
Both sides claimed victory, but the cease-fire is uneasy, Israeli citizens feel more insecure than before, and Hamas failed to win the concessions it demanded.



Quarantine for Ebola Lifted in Liberia Slum
The president of Liberia had rejected the advice of Ebola experts in quarantining the West Point neighborhood, a move that resulted in deadly clashes.



Sinosphere Blog: Wang Zhenmin on Hong Kong, Democracy and Protecting the Rich
In an unusual theoretical leap, a leading Chinese academic said democracy in Hong Kong must be limited in order to protect the interests of its capitalist class.




‘Yes Means Yes’: California Bill Would Create Strong New Definition Of Consent On College Campuses

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 29th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

‘Yes Means Yes’: California Bill Would Create Strong New Definition Of Consent On College Campuses

Colleges have tried to address this issue in the past, but many have done so with sexual assault prevention programs that hardly focus on educating would-be perpetrators.

The post ‘Yes Means Yes’: California Bill Would Create Strong New Definition Of Consent On College Campuses appeared first on ThinkProgress.

State Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, left, talks with Sen. Richardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, during the Senate session, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif.

State Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, left, talks with Sen. Richardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, during the Senate session, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

California lawmakers passed a bill on Thursday that would make the Golden State the first to clearly define when “yes means yes” in campus sexual assault investigations. The legislation passed through the Senate by way of unanimous vote and now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has yet to indicate his support for the law.

The passage of the bill known as SB-967 comes as colleges and universities across the country scramble to create policies that educate students about sexual assaults and help administrators better address allegations. It places much of the onus on would-be aggressors by stating that silence or lack of resistance would not constitute consent. Under the law, people also would not be able to give consent while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, asleep, or unconscious.

SB-967 would apply to all California public and private postsecondary schools that receive state money for financial aid. Many lawmakers, including Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) said that the bill allows California’s colleges and universities to proactively address an issue that has become a major topic of discussion well before the Obama administration launched a campus assault task force earlier this year.

“With this measure, we will lead the nation in bringing standards and protocols across the board so we can create an environment that’s healthy, that’s conducive for all students, not just for women, but for young men as well too, so young men can develop healthy patterns and boundaries as they age with the opposite sex,” de Leon said before the vote, according to the Associated Press.

Today, a college with 10,000 students could experience as many as 350 sexual assaults annually, according to the National Institute of Justice, an umbrella organization of the U.S. Department of Justice. Researchers say that women just entering college are at a higher risk of sexual assault, in part because of their age. In more than 80 percent of sexual assault cases, the victim knows her assailant. While relatively less information has been collected about sexual assaults against men, research shows that the group makes up more than 10 percent of victims raped by an acquaintance.

Often times, the nightmare for sexual assault victims doesn’t end after the traumatic event. Victims face a number of hurdles in bringing their alleged assailant to justice including a lack of confidential reporting and policies that punish them for excessive drinking, regardless of the circumstances. Many victims, as a result, experience feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear that can hinder their academic performance and cause social exclusion.

Although colleges have tried to address this issue in the past, many have done so with sexual assault prevention programs that hardly focus on educating would-be perpetrators. These programs instead call on potential victims to take preventative measures including drinking less and going out in groups.

While SB-967 would shift the focus on would-be aggressors, a few people, including Gordon Finley of the National Coalition for Men, consider the law an assault on members of the male species. In an editorial earlier this week, Finley asked Gov. Brown to not sign SB-967 saying, “This is nice for the accusers — both false accusers as well as true accusers — but what about the due process rights of the accused.” California Senate Republicans showed little opposition, however, citing that many schools have been trying to get their act together already.

Other schools around the country – including Doane College in Crete, Nebraska, Elon University in North Carolina, and Indiana University – have launched campaigns that educate students about what constitutes as a sexual assault and provides resources that allow them to confidentially report cases to campus authorities. Students at The George Washington University and University of California, Berkeley also started the academic year participating in small group discussions about sexual assault and completing an online course, respectively. A group of sexual assault survivors has also found much success in pressuring the Princeton Review and other college admissions guides to include the prevalence of sexual assaults in its rankings.

The post ‘Yes Means Yes’: California Bill Would Create Strong New Definition Of Consent On College Campuses appeared first on ThinkProgress.

More Than Half Of All Syrian Citizens Have Been Forced Out Of Their Homes

And there are now more than 3 million Syrian refugees dispersed throughout the region as a result of the civil war.

The post More Than Half Of All Syrian Citizens Have Been Forced Out Of Their Homes appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Syrian refugee women stand outside their tent at a Syrian refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Majdal Anjar

Syrian refugee women stand outside their tent at a Syrian refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Majdal Anjar

CREDIT: AP Photo/Bilal Hussein

The United Nations announced on Friday that more than have of all citizens in Syria have had to flee their home during the three year-long civil war with the result being a record three million Syrians housed as refugees around the region.

While the United States and its allies debate how to address countering militants with the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in both Syria and Iraq, the battle between Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the rebels intent on removing him from power continues unabated. The clashes between Assad’s regime and security forces and the multitude of groups fighting against him has had disastrous results for the civilian population within Syria, precipitating a massive humanitarian crisis. In 2012, Syria’s population was 22 million. Now, according to the United Nations, more than half of them have been forced to flee that violence.

“One in every eight Syrians has fled across the border, fully a million more than a year ago,” the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement, documenting just how bad the situation has gotten. In total, that means that there are for the first time more than three million Syrian refugees have been dispersed throughout the region. On top of that, there are more than 6.5 million additional Syrians who have been displaced but remain within Syria.

The hardships faced as the number of refugees in countries like Lebanon and Jordan grows are only growing more severe, the U.N. said. “More than four in five refugees are struggling to make a living in urban areas, with 38 per cent living in sub-standard shelter, according to a recent survey,” the UNHCR noted. A growing share of them are arriving in their host countries suffering from long-term medical issues, having fled due to no longer being able to receive proper care in Syria. And smugglers are now charging some crossing the desert into Jordan as much as $100 U.S. for their support, a huge sum for those who have often had to leave everything behind.

“The Syrian crisis has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refugees and the countries hosting them,” Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement. So far the U.N.’s request for funding for the situation in Syria remains only 30 percent complete, with $692 million of the $2.28 billion required to fully feed, clothe, and provide shelter and medicine to Syria’s population provided from donor governments.

Humanitarian aid groups used the U.N. announcement to castigate the world — especially countries outside the region — for not dedicating enough resources to helping the vast number of people who have been affected by the violence. “As the number of refugees grows, aid is proving insufficient and neighboring countries are stretched to breaking point,”Andy Baker, Oxfam’s head of Syria crisis response, said in a statement. “It is shocking that over three years into a crisis which shows no sign of abating, rich countries have resettled a mere 5,000 of the 3 million registered refugees who are often struggling to survive from one day to the next.”

David Miliband, International Rescue Committee president and CEO, agreed that Syria’s neighbors need more help. “The three million refugees from the Syria conflict represent three million indictments of government brutality, opposition violence and international failure,” Milliband said in a statement. “This appalling milestone needs to generate action as well as anger,” he continued, adding that “there needs to be greatly increased efforts to reduce [the Syrian people’s] suffering.”

The announcement comes one week after the U.N. gave its first update in months of the number of men, women, and children who have been killed in the civil war. According to a tally of confirmed deaths, not counting those who died from second-hand effects such as starvation or have simply vanished, at least 191,369 have been killed over the course of the war. This also doesn’t include another 51,953 reported deaths that the U.N. couldn’t verify.

The post More Than Half Of All Syrian Citizens Have Been Forced Out Of Their Homes appeared first on ThinkProgress.