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Archive for October 4th, 2014

Man ‘Running’ to Bermuda Rescued Off Florida

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Man ‘Running’ to Bermuda Rescued Off Florida
An ultra-marathoner trying to “run” from Florida to Bermuda in a human-powered inflatable bubble was rescued Saturday morning after he signaled for help, the Coast Guard said. Reza Baluchi was found by the Coast Guard on Wednesday 70 nautical miles east of St. Augustine, disoriented and asking for directions to Bermuda. The Coast Guard asked him to quit his journey because he didn’t have enough supplies, but he refused. The Coast Guard monitored his progress and on Saturday morning Baluchi activated his personal locating beacon seeking rescue.

How Do You Catch Ebola?
NPR: There’s no question Ebola is one of the most terrifying diseases out there. It causes a painful death, typically kills more than 50 percent of those infected and essentially has no cure. But if you compare how contagious the Ebola virus is to, say SARS or the measles, Ebola just doesn’t stack up. In fact, the virus is harder to catch than the common cold. … Many questions still linger. Is Ebola really not airborne? Can it spread through contaminated water? What about through a drop of blood left behind on a table? So we took those questions to two virologists: Alan Schmaljohn at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Jean-Paul Gonzalez at Metabiota, a company that tracks global infectious diseases.


Nobel Prize in literature: Oh really? Or finally?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Nobel Prize in literature: Oh really? Or finally?
STOCKHOLM (AP) — It’s soon time for the highbrow culture event of the year: the Nobel Prize in literature. But don’t worry if you are left scratching your head when the winner is announced.

US women beat Aussies 82-70 to reach worlds final
ISTANBUL (AP) — Tina Charles scored 18 points and Maya Moore added 16 to help the U.S. beat Australia 82-70 on Saturday night in the semifinals of the women’s world championship.


Karl Rove’s Crossroads groups raise $100 million for midterms

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Karl Rove’s Crossroads groups raise $100 million for midterms
The strong fundraising by outside groups could help Republicans seize control of the Senate in November

Texas Rep. Ralph Hall hospitalized after car accident
The 32-year Congressman suffered injuries when a car turned in front of his vehicle

Jeh Johnson welcomes “hard questions” from Secret Service review
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson discusses the independent review of the Secret Service commissioned after recent security lapses.


It Looks Like a GOP Wave; the Question is How Far it Goes

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

It Looks Like a GOP Wave; the Question is How Far it Goes
Michael Barone, RealClearPolitics
Republicans seem to be pulling away in the race to win a majority in the U.S. Senate. At least this week. In mid-September, several polls seemed to be going the other way. The well-informed Washington Post analyst Chris Cillizza wrote that for the first time in this election cycle, odds favored the Democrats keeping their majority. Two weeks later, he was singing another tune. Analysts at the Post, the New York Times and FiveThirtyEight, in addition to psephologists Charlie Cook, Stuart Rothenberg and Larry Sabato, all agreed. What may have happened is this: Over the summer, Democrats used…

Dangerous People and Deadly Force
Steve Chapman, RealClearPolitics
When a man jumped over the White House fence, ran across the lawn and entered the residence, the Secret Service failed and failed again. One of the most conspicuous and surprising failures was that though it had armed agents on the ground and snipers on the roof, no one fired a shot to stop him. In fact, the agency bragged about not using their guns, saying that “the officers showed tremendous restraint and discipline in dealing with this subject.” The agents didn’t shoot Omar Gonzalez because they “apparently concluded that he was not armed and did not appear to be carrying anything that…

Beyond Marijuana: Legalize All Drugs
Froma Harrop, RealClearPolitics
Thirty years ago, a college kid in Kentucky was caught growing marijuana plants in his closet. That turned him into a convicted felon, and though he’s been on the right side of the law ever since, he still can’t vote. On any job application, he must check the box next to “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” All this misery for growing a plant whose leaves the past three presidents admit having smoked. We know this story because Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky keeps telling it. That a Southern Republican probably running for president is condemning such prosecutions as unfair speaks volumes…


Call to rule out referendum repeat

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Call to rule out referendum repeat
Nicola Sturgeon should rule out a rapid second independence referendum, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael is to urge.

Labour ‘must go all out for the win’
Labour leader Ed Miliband is urged to go “all out for the win” in the 2015 election amid criticism from senior figures from his own party.

VIDEO: Cameron: Henning murder ‘unforgivable’
The murder of hostage Alan Henning is “abhorrent, senseless and completely unforgivable”, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.


In Ukraine, Civilians in Crossfire

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

In Ukraine, Civilians in Crossfire
Civilian casualties have soared as separatist rebels with heavy artillery attack the airport in Donetsk and Ukrainian forces respond with often ill-directed fire.



Rebels in Eastern Ukraine Dream of Reviving Soviet Heyday
In the relative lull of a cease-fire, separatist leaders have set about building neo-Soviet states like those created in other pro-Russian enclaves.



Indian State in Mourning After Graft Conviction
In a country that has long tolerated brazen corruption in its leaders, tears of despair and suicides followed the sentencing of the Tamil Nadu chief minister, Jayalalithaa Jayaram.



Biden Apologizes to Turkish President
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. apologized to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for remarks suggesting that Turkey helped facilitate the rise of the Islamic State.



Russia Cancels Exchange Program After a Student Seeks U.S. Asylum
Russian media reported that the student feared returning to Russia because he could face persecution over his sexuality.


Ben Affleck Slams Bill Maher’s Anti-Muslim Sentiment As ‘Gross’ And ‘Racist’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Ben Affleck Slams Bill Maher’s Anti-Muslim Sentiment As ‘Gross’ And ‘Racist’

Hollywood actor Ben Affleck’s response to anti-Muslim sentiment? “What is your solution? To condemn Islam? To do what? We’ve killed more Muslims than they’ve killed us by an awful lot.”

The post Ben Affleck Slams Bill Maher’s Anti-Muslim Sentiment As ‘Gross’ And ‘Racist’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Bill Maher

Bill Maher

CREDIT: John Shearer/Invision/AP

In a testy ten-minute exchange on “Real Time” with television host Bill Maher and author Sam Harris, Hollywood actor Ben Affleck slammed the host for commenting that Islam is the only religion that acts like the “mafia.” Along with journalist Nicholas Kristof, Affleck argued that ascribing an entire religion based on the actions of the terrorist group Islamic State, was “gross” and “racist,” while Maher and Harris shot back that criticizing Islam “gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people,” a ploy that others have used to build on anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.

During the exchange with Kristof and RNC Chairman Michael Steele, Affleck took the lead to slam Maher and Harris for defending their generalization of Islam. Harris stated, “We have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people.” Affleck asked, “Are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam?”

To Maher’s idea of generalizing Islam, Affleck said, “It’s gross, it’s racist,” while Kristof added that the view of Muslims is “incomplete,” referring to the example of Malala Yousafzai, a teenager shot by fundamentalists, who is part of the larger peaceful Muslim movement. Harris panned both Affleck and Kristof’s responses saying that Islam is “the motherload of bad ideas” and that fundamentalists are not just the “fringe group” of practicing Muslims.

Still later in the exchange, Maher said, “It’s the only religion that acts like the mafia that will [expletive] kill you if you say the wrong thing, paint the wrong picture or write the wrong book” to which Affleck shot back, “What is your solution? To condemn Islam? To do what? We’ve killed more Muslims than they’ve killed us by an awful lot.”

Watch it.

Last week, Maher came under fire for saying that the “vast numbers of Muslims want humans to die for holding a different idea,” stating that they have “too much in common with ISIS.” He also said that self-identified liberals should “stand up for liberal principles,” saying that they are silent on atrocities committed by Islamic fundamentalists.

Yet in using the same kind of reasoning that officials have espoused to perpetuate Islamophobia, Maher and Harris mixes the violent actions of a few with millions of Muslims who are leading the initiative to show Islam as a peaceful religion.

Countering the conflation of the actions of a terrorist organization to millions of Muslim adherents, the brother of David Haines, who was beheaded by ISIS, reiterated the point that Islam is about peace and love. Even Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has said that the group is “not a true form of Islam.” As ThinkProgress’ Igor Volsky and Jack Jenkins previously argued, the Islamic State is not Islamic: the terrorist organization does not abide by many of its fundamental tenets of Islam, like committing to peace or giving regard to the welfare of women and children. Instead, the terrorist group has committed systematic, gruesome violence, while a United Nations report released Thursday found that the group sold women and girls into sex slavery and forced children to become child soldiers. What’s more, nearly every American Muslim organization has roundly condemned the ideology and actions of the terrorist group, with some petitioning the name of the terrorist group be changed to “Unislamic State.”

The post Ben Affleck Slams Bill Maher’s Anti-Muslim Sentiment As ‘Gross’ And ‘Racist’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Maryland Report Finds Fracking Poses Little Risk To Drinking Water In The State

The report analyzed the risks posed by fracking in the state, including the chance of water contamination and air pollution.

The post Maryland Report Finds Fracking Poses Little Risk To Drinking Water In The State appeared first on ThinkProgress.

A jar holding waste water from hydraulic fracturing is held up to the light at a recycling site in Midland, Texas, Sept. 24, 2013.

A jar holding waste water from hydraulic fracturing is held up to the light at a recycling site in Midland, Texas, Sept. 24, 2013.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

A draft report on the risks of fracking in Maryland has found little risk of drinking water contamination in the state, despite multiple reports of contamination from fracking in other states.

The report, which was put together by Maryland’s Department of Environment and Department of Natural Resources, ranked the risk of contamination of soil, ground water or surface water from a spill during most parts of the fracking process as “low.” It found that current state regulations and proposed “best practices” could reduce much of the risk of water contamination from fracking, and that in general, water contamination wasn’t high on the list of risks related to fracking.

“The high standards set for casing and cementing practices, management of materials and wastes on and off the site and careful siting resulting from location restrictions, setbacks and geologic studies, yield a low risk that ground and surface water supplies will be impacted either through surface spills or subsurface releases during the drilling and waste transport process,” the report states.

The report did, however, state that there’s a greater likelihood of contamination of water by methane — rather than fracking chemicals — especially in gas wells set 2,000 feet — rather than 3,280 feet — from a water well.

The report assessed other risks as well, finding that Maryland faced moderate to high risks associated with increased truck traffic to and from fracking sites, and that the state faced a high risk of road degradation as a result of this increased traffic. It also ranked air pollution risks from fracking as moderate to high.

But the report’s overall classification of water contamination risks as low goes against the multiple reports of contamination of water near fracking operations. A September study linked failures in casing and cementing in gas wells to water contamination in Texas and Pennsylvania, a state that in August revealed that fracking had led to hundreds of cases of water contamination. A 2013 study found that the closer a person lives to a fracking well in Pennsylvania, the more risk that person has for methane contamination of water supplies. West Virginia has also linked water complaints to fracking, and according to a 2013 report, chemicals from oil and gas wastewater pits have contaminated water sources in New Mexico at least 421 times.

Rebecca Ruggles, director of the Maryland Environmental Health Network, told the AP that Maryland’s draft report was too optimistic about proposed “best practices” in fracking and ignored the risks to water supplies associated with well casing failures.

An August report published by the University of Maryland and commissioned by Gov. Martin O’Malley had slightly different findings from the DEP and DNR’s report, identifying high risks to air quality and moderately-high water-related risks. That report also contained a range of recommendations for reducing fracking-related risks in the state, including requirements for a review of health impacts and monitoring plans for air, water, and soil health.

The draft DEP and DNR report is open to public comment until November 3. Maryland currently doesn’t house any fracking operations, so these reports will help the state determine whether or not to allow fracking, and what policies to implement if it does.

The post Maryland Report Finds Fracking Poses Little Risk To Drinking Water In The State appeared first on ThinkProgress.


ISIS, Boko Haram and Batman

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

ISIS, Boko Haram and Batman
Thomas Friedman, New York Times

Keeping the Pressure on Mr. Putin

Will China Crush the Hong Kong Protests?
Orville Schell, Wall St. Journal