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Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays: The Snowdog – By Jacquie Lawson

mykeystrokes.com

Although we all have our different ideologies, preferences and opinions, we are all a part of “America The Beautiful”. There is no place like home. I wish you all the very best in the coming New Year.

The Snowdog – animated Flash ecard by Jacquie Lawson

In Memory of my brother and best friend, Anthony Evans, MD and to my good friend and colleague, John B. Makin, Jr., MD

By: raemd95, Originally Posted December 24, 2009, December 25, 2013; December 25, 2014, December 24, 2015

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December 24, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“When The Police Are Called To A Governor’s Hotel Room…”: Your Audition For National Office Is Off To An Awkward Start

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) was already confronted with an unwelcome controversy. A month ago, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the FBI has spent “several months” talking to Republican officials in the state about Martinez’s campaign fundraising activities. Though the Republican governor has insisted the allegations are without merit, Martinez conceded she’d already spoken to the FBI about one of her top advisors.

And now, the governor has a new political headache to deal with. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported on Friday:

[Martinez] found herself attracting a different sort of national attention Friday after the release of a recording in which she told law enforcement dispatchers that police should not investigate disturbance complaints against her group at a Santa Fe hotel.

Martinez’s recorded dealings with police, dispatchers and hotel employees made her a wide target for criticism Friday. Her detractors and political enemies accused her of trying to bully other government employees to thwart an investigation.

As gubernatorial controversies go, this is an odd one. The governor recently held a holiday party for her staff at a hotel, but someone called the police about disturbances from Martinez’s room, where someone was allegedly throwing bottles from a balcony.

Audio recordings were released Friday that showed Martinez demanding hotel staff tell her who made the noise complaint and trying to discourage the police from following up.

By Friday night, the governor issued a statement expressing regret.  ”I want to apologize for the conduct of my staff the night of our holiday party,” Martinez wrote. “There was apparently a party in a hotel room earlier in the night that was disruptive. Someone was also throwing snowballs from a balcony. None of that should have happened and I was not aware of the extent of the behavior, until recently. And that behavior is not acceptable.

“I also want to admit that I made a mistake when I went to speak to the receptionist and asked her about the complaint. I should not have gotten involved in trying to resolve the situation, nor should I have spoken to the dispatcher on the phone. I was wrong to speak with them like that, and I apologize.”

In the larger context, it’s worth noting that Martinez is not just another GOP governor. The New Mexican recently became the chair of the Republican Governors Association, and as we discussed a month ago, she’s also frequently mentioned as a possible VP candidate for her party in 2016. When Marco Rubio was asked about possible running mates, he specifically mentioned Martinez by name six weeks ago.

But at this point, I think it’s safe to say her audition for national office is off to an awkward start.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 21, 2015

December 24, 2015 Posted by | Campaign Financing, Republican Governors Association, Susana Martinez | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Indelicate Demands Of Profit”: Exxon’s Weapons Of Mass Confusion On Climate Change

There is a constant flow of headlines these days confirming the mess we’ve made: “Looks Like Rain Again. And Again”; “Alaska Will Keep Melting”; “Climate Change a Worry to Central Bankers, Too”; “Warning on Climate Risk: Worst to Come.”

This is far from a natural phenomenon. A handful of corporate interests are causing these catastrophes. Oil, coal, auto and a few other industrial powers have profited for decades by spewing fossil fuel contaminants into the world’s atmosphere.

Some experts were speaking out about this mess nearly 40 years ago:

“There is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels,” wrote James Black in 1978.

“Over the past several years, a clear scientific consensus has emerged,” said Roger Cohen in September 1982. “There is unanimous agreement in the scientific community that a temperature increase of this magnitude would bring about significant changes in the Earth’s climate, including rainfall distribution and alterations in the biosphere.”

The significance of these early calls to action is that they came from Exxon!

Inside Climate News revealed in an investigative series released this fall that the oil superpower (now infamous for its relentless campaign of lies to discredit climate science) was briefly a paragon of scientific integrity. From 1978 through the ’80s the corporation’s research headquarters were a buzzing hive of farsighted inquiry into the “greenhouse effect,” as the process of climate change was then called.

But in 1988, the elegant space inhabited by principle was suddenly invaded by the indelicate demands of profit. Dr. James Hansen, NASA’s renowned climate expert, testified to Congress that fossil pollution of Earth’s atmosphere had already surpassed the crisis point. “Global warming has begun,” Hanson concluded.

Then the United Nations’ intergovernmental panel on climate change issued an authoritative study in 1990 concluding that the warming was happening and the cause was emissions from fossil fuels.

With that, Exxon dismantled and defunded its research team. Ever since, it’s been the shameful, self-serving leader of a voodoo “science” campaign to keep the world hooked on the fossil fuels that provide its profits.

Their strategy was to create an incessant noise machine, fueled with hundreds of millions of industry dollars, to spread the false narrative that scientists are “uncertain” about climate change. In a confidential 1998 memo, ExxonMobil’s senior environmental lobbyist stated the Orwellian goal of this corporate campaign: “Victory will be achieved when … average citizens ‘understand’ uncertainties in climate science,” and when “recognition of uncertainty becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.’”

Their many tactics included: forming a lobbying combine in 1989 to sow doubt among public officials about the need for government action; placing a very costly, decade-long series of essays in newspapers denigrating the very scientists it previously nurtured and the science reports that it published; and trying to get the government’s chief global warming official to decry the uncertainty of climate research (then, when he refused, got the incoming Bush-Cheney regime to fire him). They also made their CEOs into hucksters of bunkum, with such lines as “the earth is cooler today than it was 20 years ago” and “it is highly unlikely that the temperature in the middle of next century will be significantly affected whether policies are enacted now or 20 years from now” and “what if everything we do, it turns out that our (climate) models are lousy, and we don’t get the (rising temperatures) we predict?”

If these denials of reality sound familiar, that’s because they’re exactly the same ones we’re now hearing from such Einsteins as The Donald (who recently tweeted, “I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax”), The Cruzer (who claimed that climate change is a liberal plot for “massive government control of the economy … and every aspect of our lives”) and Jeb (who said, “It’s convoluted. And for the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant”).

The deniers are not only on the wrong side of science and history, but also on the wrong side of most voters. A New York Times poll taken last January found that only 13 percent of our people (and only 24 percent of Repubs) said they would be more likely to vote for 2016 presidential candidates who contend that climate change is a hoax and America should keep burning oil and coal. A September poll by three GOP firms found that 56 percent of Republicans agree that the climate is changing and 72 percent support accelerating the use of renewable fuels.

The real power, and our great hope, is in the People’s rebellion: marches, civil disobedience, trainings, teach-ins and other actions to pressure leaders to put people and the planet over corporate profiteering, while also raising global public awareness about the crucial need to get off of fossil fuels and into renewable energy. As 350.org puts it, “Politicians aren’t the only ones with power.” So the coalition will be in the global streets, on the Internet, in schools, churches and all other available forums, to rally you and me to save ourselves.

 

By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, December 16, 2015

December 24, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change, Exxon Mobil, Global Warming | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Fool Me Twice, New York Times…”: Long Past Time People Started Saying The Washington Bureau Has A Serious Problem?

In my experience, you can fool a golden retriever exactly twice with the old hidden ball trick. Our late dog Big Red was as exuberant an animal as ever lived. I used to say that if he wasn’t wet, cold, and hungry, Red was happy.

Then I had to rescue him from the Arkansas River during a sleet storm. He’d plunged in to chase ducks but couldn’t clamber back up the steep, slippery bank on his own. Coated in mud with icicles hanging from his coat, Red remained optimistic. See, after his walk came supper. His eyes shone like a puppy’s all the way home.

Anyway, that dog would fetch his beloved tennis ball until your arm ached from throwing it. Prank him with a fake toss and he’d charge off and search eagerly before returning with a quizzical look. A second fake drew less assiduous searching. After that, he kept his eyes riveted on your hand. No fooling him anymore.

It will be seen that Big Red would have been overqualified to edit The New York Times. Responding to the Washington bureau’s latest embarrassing front page blunder, Times executive editor Dean Baquet appeared to agree with the newspaper’s public editor Margaret Sullivan that something needed to be done about “the rampant use of anonymous sources” who turned out to be blowing smoke, or worse.

A second senior editor, Matt Purdy, offered an alibi when he claimed, “We got it wrong because our very good sources had it wrong… That’s an explanation, not an excuse. We have an obligation to get facts right and we work very hard to do that.”

Reporters Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt were absolved from blame. They’d simply written down what their excellent sources told them.

OK, that was a ball fake.

The above quotes don’t actually appear in public editor Sullivan’s analysis of the latest New York Times bogus blockbuster. They’re actually taken from her July 27 article headlined “A Clinton Story Fraught With Inaccuracies: How It Happened and What Next?”

Perhaps you remember “Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email” — at least that was the original headline. Reporters Schmidt and Apuzzo had cited “senior government officials” hinting that the former secretary of state was in immediate legal peril.

Except, uh-oh, “virtually everything about the story turned out to be wrong. Clinton was not a target. The referral was not criminal. And as the story itself noted, the emails in question had most likely not been classified at the time Clinton saw them.”

It was, in short, a total journalistic failure, although you can still hear pundits predicting Hillary’s imminent indictment in the non-existent criminal probe.

(I’ve lost track of how often Kenneth Starr acolytes in the Washington media had Mrs. Clinton measured for an orange prison jumpsuit during the phony “Whitewater” investigation. Check out Joe Conason’s and my ebook The Hunting of Hillary for details.)

The newspaper’s latest embarrassing failure, involving as it does a matter of national security, is far more significant. “U.S. Visa Process Missed San Bernardino Wife’s Online Zealotry,” a December 12 front page headline read. But once again, the Times came up far short.

This time, ace reporters Schmidt and Apuzzo had found unnamed “American law enforcement officials” who claimed that San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik had “talked openly on social media about her views on violent jihad,” and that feckless US immigration officials had failed to check her Facebook page. The implication was clear: Had they done so fourteen innocent Americans might still be alive.

Once again, however, the secret insiders were wrong. There was nothing open about Tashfeen Malik’s crazed musings. Written in Urdu under a pseudonym, as FBI director James B. Comey subsequently made clear, they’d been sent as private messages not visible to the public. No way investigators could have found them without a search warrant.

Evidently, The Times’ trusted sources (the same individuals?) didn’t know enough about how Facebook and similar social media sites work to be aware of these issues. Reporters and editors seemingly didn’t know enough to ask.

Also once again, the newspaper dragged its feet for most of a week before admitting error. Absent the insistence of Washington Post blogger Erik Wemple, it might never have done so. The Times’ stalling also had the effect of giving Republican presidential candidates time to falsely blame everything on Obama administration’s imagined “political correctness.”

For his part, Baquet, the executive editor, just back from snuffling in the brush for his lost tennis ball, told Margaret Sullivan that he “rejected the idea that the sources had a political agenda that caused them to plant falsehoods.” He did allow as how she was correct that the Times needed more stringent reporting procedures.

Gosh, you think?

Otherwise, isn’t it past time people started saying out loud that the newspaper’s vaunted Washington bureau has a serious problem?

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, December 23, 2015

December 24, 2015 Posted by | Anonymous Sources, Journalism, The New York Times | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Waiting For Justice In Local Jails”: Why More Americans Are Dying In Holding Cells

On Monday a special prosecutor announced that neither the sheriff’s office nor jailers in Waller County, Texas, would face criminal charges related to the death of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was arrested during a routine traffic stop last summer in Texas and was found three days later hanged in her cell.

In a time of heightened scrutiny following the highly publicized killings of black Americans by police, Bland’s arrest and untimely death renewed national debate over the inequitable, and sometimes brutal, treatment of black citizens by police.

Bland’s family members have since filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against authorities in Texas openly questioning the official cause of death as a suicide. Friends and family have disputed that Bland would have taken her own life, saying that she was “in good spirits” and looking forward to starting a dream job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University.

While it may seem unthinkable to loved ones, statistics show that Bland’s grim fate is shockingly common.

Suicide is the leading cause of death in local jails. According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (PDF), since 2000, 4,134 people have taken their own lives while awaiting justice in local jails.

In 2013, 327 inmates—a third of the total who died while in custody of local jails—died this way. The suicide rate per jail inmates increased 14 percent from 2012 to 2013, and 23 percent from 2009.

Roughly 60 percent of all suicides in jails involve inmates between the ages of 25 and 44. Bland was 28 years old.

Suicide is more of a problem for jails than prisons, with half of them occurring within the first week of admission. The reason for the disparity is twofold, says Lindsay Hayes, the project director for the nonprofit National Center on Institutions and an expert in suicide prevention in prisons: fear and bad policing.

This month in Roanoke, Virginia, 22-year-old Clifton Antonio Harper was found hanging by his bedsheet in his jail cell. Harper had been in jail since March on charges of burglary, grand larceny, and assault.

And a 35-year-old Indianapolis man jailed for theft and possession of paraphernalia reportedly killed himself while in custody, prompting a review of jail suicides in Marion County.

In jails, Hayes says, people are sometimes going in for the first time, facing uncertainty and fear. Some are intoxicated at the time of their arrest, which can trigger an emotional response.

It’s what corrections expert Steve J. Martin called the “shock of confinement.” In an interview with NPR, Martin explained the trauma of being in jail for the first time: “My life is going to end right now with this experience. Everything I’ve worked for, the way people view me, the way my parents view me’—all that stuff is suddenly and dramatically in jeopardy.”

Hayes says that, while jails are getting better, there are still many that lack good training and intake screening practices that prisons have worked to institute.

“The classic response used to be, ‘If an inmate wants to kill himself, there’s nothing you can do about it,’” Hayes said. “Fast-forward to today and jails and prisons are much better resourced, and have tools now to identify suicidal behavior and manage it.”

In fact, Bland’s death prompted the Texas legislature to call for a review of local jails and how potentially suicidal inmates are handled and treated. Such reviews have resulted in an increased emphasis on training jail staff and an improvement in screening procedures in the state. New intake forms that identify suicide risks were put into practice this month by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

Death by hanging is by far the most common method of suicide in U.S. jails—either by bedding, or with clothing attached to an anchoring device such as a bunk, bars, or a cell door, according to a national study of jail suicide (PDF).

Critics have blasted Waller County jailers for failing to properly monitor Bland after she told them about a previous suicide attempt. While an intake form shows Bland answered “yes” to whether she had ever attempted suicide—as recently as 2014 by “pills”—her jailers left her alone in a cell with a plastic trash bag which she used to strangle herself.

 

By: Brandy Zadrozny, The Daily Beast, December 22, 2015

December 24, 2015 Posted by | Black Americans, Incarceration, Jail Deaths, Sandra Bland | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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