AMERICAblog News http://americablog.com A great nation deserves the truth // One of America's top progressive sites for news and opinion Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:51:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Stephen Colbert on Obama’s immigration plan http://americablog.com/2014/11/stephen-colbert-obamas-immigration-plan.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/stephen-colbert-obamas-immigration-plan.html#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:49:04 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124863 Stephen Colbert weighs in on President Obama’s new immigration plan.

“Folks, my great grandfather did not come here from Ireland to see this country overrun by immigrants.”

obama-immigration-colbert

It is interesting to see how Fox News dutifully repeats the same talking points that the most conservative Republicans are using.

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The Bill Cosby story, and the time I got sexually harassed in the Senate http://americablog.com/2014/11/bill-cosby-story-time-got-sexually-harassed-senate.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/bill-cosby-story-time-got-sexually-harassed-senate.html#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:00:43 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124855 I was watching Erin Burnett’s reporting on the ongoing, and growing, sexual harassment accusations against comedian Bill Cosby, and it got me thinking of the time I was sexually harassed while working in the US Senate.

My harasser was a woman working in George H.W. Bush’s Department of Transportation; and at the time several people, including her boss, didn’t take my complaint seriously. After all, I was a guy. And how can a woman sexually harass a man?

I’m writing about this because I was reading the other day about one of Bill Cosby’s accusers, and how she continued to see him after he had allegedly drugged and had sex with her, and I found myself wondering why she didn’t stop seeing him and call the cops. Then I thought back to what happened to me, and how one’s reaction, and reflexes, are decidedly more numb than you’d expect when experiencing something like this.

I was a legislative attorney working on commerce issues and foreign affairs, and I need to call a deputy assistant secretary at DOT who I regularly worked with, and ask him about something. I called, got his secretary Ally, who I’d spoke with a million times before, and asked if he was available. Ally said he wasn’t. So I asked her if he was going to be quick, and whether it was worth holding. In response, Ally said to me: “That depends, what are you holding?”

Now, I had a collegial rapport with this woman, as we spoke practically every week. We weren’t friends; we never shared with each other any details of our lives; but I’m a friendly guy, and am always happy to be politely chatty with anyone I speak with (it’s a midwestern thing).

I knew what Ally meant, but at the same time couldn’t believe that I was understanding her correctly. I must have misunderstood, so I ignored what I thought she’d said, instead said something else about talking to her boss — I don’t even remember now what it was — and got another definitively more sexual response that left no question what Ally was getting at.

I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t even believe it was happening. And it wasn’t funny. It really wasn’t funny. I was pretty much mortified. And frozen.

All I could muster was telling Ally to tell her boss that I called and have him call me. That’s when Ally said to me:

“Well let me breathe heavy for you three times before you hang up the phone. Here goes: Huuuh, huuuh, huuuh.”

I sat for a second. Said nothing. Then all I could muster, in a hushed voice, was to say: “Stop it, Ally. Stop it.”

Ally giggled and hung up.

I just sat there. Speechless. Confused. Numb.

The legislative correspondent who worked for me walked in, saw my face, and with great concern asked me what was wrong. I told her. She then said: “Let me guess: You feel dirty, like it’s your fault, and you’re afraid to tell anyone.”

I did tell someone, after she urged me to. I went downstairs, told our office manager, and our chief staff, and then was left to call the deputy assistant secretary at DOT myself, to explain what had happened. As I recall, he laughed.

So when I hear people, or even hear myself, question why alleged victims of sexual harassment don’t speak up more often, I think back to my speechless self dealing with Ally at the Department of Transportation.

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Gay Santa: Saint Nick has a special elf, and some parents are not pleased http://americablog.com/2014/11/gay-santa.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/gay-santa.html#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:31:11 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124842 There’s a documentary out about the men who play Santa this time of year at malls across America.

The film, called “I am Santa Claus,” comes with a few twists.

One of the Santas being chronicled is professional wrestler Mick Foley.

mick-foley-santa

Another is gay. And that’s caused quite a bit of blowback.

Santa Jim and his "special elf."

Santa Jim and his “special elf.”

Ironically, the entire point of the film is to introduce you to the men who “whose lap your child is sitting on.”

And let’s face it — 99.99% of people who bring their kids to meet Santa have no clue who they’re handing their kids over to.

Is he a drunk?

Wife beater?

Child molester?

Axe murderer?

All distinct possibilities.

But once it’s confirmed that one of the Santas is gay, then suddenly some parents care.

The gay Santa is “Santa Jim.” Here’s his description from the Kickstarter project that funded the movie:

Santa Jim resides in Ft. Worth, TX and is the proud winner of “Mr. Texas Bear Round-Up,” the largest gathering of hairy, overweight, homosexual men in the country. Although retired, he has seasonal work as a Santa. He is in a relationship with a Denver Colorado man 30 years his junior whom he calls “his special elf.”

Responding to the controversy, Mick Foley (who’s been awfully good on gay rights the past several years) had this to say:

“I am a guy who used to go out of my way to make people dislike me for a career. But this is what puts people over the edge?”

Amen, sister.

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Hawaii hospital charges Canadian family $1m for baby’s birth http://americablog.com/2014/11/hawaii-hospital-charges-canadian-family-1m-babys-birth.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/hawaii-hospital-charges-canadian-family-1m-babys-birth.html#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 13:00:52 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124834 A Canadian family is refusing to pay a Hawaii hospital million-dollar-bill for their baby’s premature birth while visiting on vacation.

The family, from the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, had the forethought to buy traveler’s insurance from Blue Cross — the woman wasn’t due for over two months.

Nonetheless, Blue Cross is refusing to cover the birth because the woman had a “pre-existing condition.”

What was the deadly condition that this Canadian vixen failed to disclose to all-caring innocent-victim Blue Cross (even though the woman says Blue Cross never asked)?

A bladder infection.

Welcome to health care costs in America, and oddly, health care cruelty in Canada.

You see, the insurance company that turned the family down was “Saskatchewan Blue Cross” — a Canadian company.

When will it all be too much?

I spent the afternoon calling back and forth from my insurance company to Costco to my local pharmacy to find out how much prescription drug coverage I have left for this year. You see, I still have a pre-Obamacare health insurance plan, and I only get $1,500 in prescription drug coverage every year.

For those of you under the age of 50, or living outside of the US, prescription drug prices are obscene in the US. Take the Asmanex I’m now on for my asthma. It’s much cheaper than the Advair I was on before. Asmanex is “only” $193 per month.

And guess how much I bought the same Asmanex, made by the same pharmaceutical company (Merck), for this past summer in Paris?

$25.

Comparative drug prices, US vs. Europe.

Comparative drug prices, US vs. Europe. Note that several pharmaceutical companies have been cutting already-low drug prices in Europe, while raising them drastically in America.

Yes, Merck charges American citizens nearly 8x what it charges Europeans. Why? Because they can. Americans are quite literally subsidizing “socialized medicine” (as the Republicans love to call it) in Europe. And our politicians are doing nothing to stop it. In fact, they’re doing everything to protect it. You see, US law forbids the US government from negotiating with drug companies to get better prices in the Medicare program, for example. So, seniors get socked with higher bills.

Also, US laws bars Americans traveling abroad from bringing more than 3 months’ worth of prescription drugs home with them. Why? Because the FDA claims they’re afraid you’ll buy bad knock-off drugs, and kill yourself. What horrible sewer-like countries is the FDA concerned you might buy drugs from? Canada.

From the FDA Web site:

Is it legal for me to personally import drugs?

In most circumstances, it is illegal for individuals to import drugs into the United States for personal use. This is because drugs from other countries that are available for purchase by individuals often have not been approved by FDA for use and sale in the United States. For example, if a drug is approved by Health Canada (FDA’s counterpart in Canada) but has not been approved by FDA, it is an unapproved drug in the United States and, therefore, illegal to import. FDA cannot ensure the safety and effectiveness of drugs that it has not approved.

Seriously — Canada?

But let’s look at this a bit more closely. I’ve been buying my asthma drugs in France. They’re the same drugs, made and sold by the same companies that sell them to me in America, but at a 3 to 8 times mark-up. Does the FDA seriously expect us to believe that it’s protecting us from Merck’s, GlaxoSmithKline’s and AstraZeneca’s “unsafe” drugs they sell to Europeans? Seriously?

If Advair, Symbicort and Asmanex are so unsafe, then why are they sold in America at all? We’re to believe that unsafe drugs suddenly become safe simply because the drug companies charge American several hundred dollars more than they charge Europeans for a one-month supply? 

And adding to the fun, countries like France have a national health care system similar to Medicare — there’s a national plan, and then a supplemental private plan that you can pay extra for if you want additional coverage. Because the French government negotiates with drug companies, and gets the price down by a factor of anyone from 3 to 8, the drug companies simply make up the difference by charing Americans more.

A lot more.

So is anyone really surprised that having a baby, even a premature birth, cost a million bucks? My dad got sick last year, and his bill came in at a whopping $1.4 million. Fortunately, all but $400 was paid for by Medicare. But seriously, $1.4 million? How many million-dollar cotton-swabs were included in that bill?

Obamacare was only the beginning of the kind of reform our country needs. And a big part of the reform is the insane prices that we get charged for all kinds of medical services. It’s basically one big pyramid scheme, where hospitals and doctors fleece each other, when they’re not fleecing you and me.

When will enough be enough?

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Graphic video, animal rights group says Chick-fil-A abuses chickens http://americablog.com/2014/11/graphic-video-animal-rights-group-says-chick-fil-abuses-chickens.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/graphic-video-animal-rights-group-says-chick-fil-abuses-chickens.html#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 21:25:53 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124830 Mercy for Animals has released a disturbing video which it says shows abuses against animals at a farm and slaughterhouse that provides chicken to fast-food giant Chick-fil-A.

The video shows chickens being violently thrown into storage areas, often by their wings and legs; others being scalded alive; and still others “having their throats, wings, and chests sliced open while still conscious.”

Chick-fil-A says it no longer uses the farm and slaughterhouse, run by Koch foods (no apparent relation to the Koch Brothers), but Mercy for Animals disputes this.

Live chickens being violent thrown into storage bins, often by their legs and wings.

Live chickens being violent thrown into storage bins, often by their legs and wings.

The video is pretty disturbing. Though I suspect it’s not a very pleasant business killing animals en masse, regardless of how one ends their lives. I’d have liked to seen some information as to what the norm for the industry actually is. In other words, is Chick-fil-A’s (previous?) supplier breaking the rules, or, and potentially even worse, is this the way chickens are treated everywhere? Because, while I’m not quite ready to become a vegetarian, it isn’t a fun thing to watch.

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Put the breaks on the per-mile vehicle tax http://americablog.com/2014/11/put-the-breaks-on-per-mile-vehicle-tax.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/put-the-breaks-on-per-mile-vehicle-tax.html#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 18:41:56 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124824 America’s roads and bridges are crumbling.

Historically, motorists have paid for roads with a gas tax, but it has not kept pace with inflation, nor wirh fuel-efficient hybrid and electric cars that use little to no gas. Some states therefore are considering charging per mile instead of per gallon.

Strangely, this un-progressive idea is gaining traction in progressive states. California, Washington, Nevada and Massachusetts all are kicking the idea around. The liberal Center for American Progress likes it too.

Oregon, one of the few bright spots for Democrats in this month’s elections, seeks 5,000 volunteers to pay 1.5 cents per mile instead of 30 cents per gallon as part of a pilot project.

A mileage tax does have a progressive veneer. It would raise desperately needed money for infrastructure, and it would benefit low-income drivers who typically own older, less-fuel-efficient vehicles.

Scratch the surface, though, and one finds conservative outcomes that will harm the environment, climate change and civil liberties.

Sure, some of the people who drive gas-guzzlers are poor, but many more are just selfish owners of pickup trucks and SUVs. They will save big with a mileage tax.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 2, 2013: White Hummer H2 limousine at the city street. Art Konovalov / Shutterstock.com

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – JUNE 2, 2013: White Hummer H2 limousine at the city street. Art Konovalov / Shutterstock.com

The Oregon proposal illustrates this. Imagine two Oregonians who each drive 10,000 miles per year. Driver A has a hybrid car and gets and average 45 mpg. Under the current per gallon tax, she pays $67 per year. Driver B has an SUV that optimistically gets 17 mpg. He pays $176 in gas tax.

Both would pay the same $150 for 10,000 miles under the proposed mileage tax. Energy-efficient Driver A winds up paying more than double what she paid under the gas tax so that Energy Inefficient Driver B can pay less, and the state can raise some money.

The mileage tax therefore eliminates one of the biggest incentives for choosing a fuel-efficient vehicle.

Supporters spin that as a plus. Everyone pays the same for the same amount of driving, they say. Yet their impacts on the roads, the planet and society are not the same at all.

The idea of using the tax code for social engineering is nothing new. Elected officials from the right and the left hand out tax breaks to things they like, and impose heavier taxes on things they don’t. They levy sin taxes on alcohol, tobacco and marijuana (where applicable) to discourage consumption. They let people who pay mortgages or have children pay less to encourage homeownership and reproduction.

Larger, heavier vehicles cause more wear to pavement than lighter, fuel-efficient ones. The gas tax captures that disparity. (If Oregon really wants to target the people who cause the most wear and tear, it would ban or tax the studded tires that needlessly chew up the roads to the tune of $50 million every year.)

Meanwhile, the more gasoline a vehicle burns, the more greenhouse gases and other nasty chemicals it emits. Society has a compelling interest in encouraging more-efficient use of natural resources and keeping our air breathable. Making people pay higher taxes for polluting more is one way to do it. A mileage tax, on the other hand, allows people to use as much gas as they like, as inefficiently as they like, without any additional consequence.

Motorists would also lose a great deal of privacy under this scheme as someone would need to track their driving to tally their mileage.

Oregon hopes to get around the Big Brother aspect by contracting GPS tracking and billing to private companies. The companies would store the personal travel information, not the state. But it’s hard to take comfort in that. We have all how seen how well the private sector shields personal data from government snooping (or from hackers). All it will take is one call from an NSA agent, or overzealous police officer, and where one has traveled winds up in a government database. (Such information can also prove useful in contentious divorce cases.)

The Oregon Department of Transportation also figures that those private partners will not charge the state much because what they really want is access to the personal information of all of the state’s vehicle owners. Rather than bill the state, companies would use that data to sell things like insurance and maintenance warranties. If you want to drive, you’ll have to agree to receive more junk mail and aggressive marketing of dubious services. Seeing as those companies will know everywhere you drive, they’ll be able to target their pitches.

The mileage scheme turns out to be a money-loser, too. According to ODOT, overhead on the gas tax is about 0.5 percent in Oregon. Under the mileage tax, even once upfront implementation costs are paid, overhead runs about 5 percent of gross revenue. For the state to maintain its current revenue, it will have to charge motorists more in aggregate just to make up the difference, let alone actually raise more money for roads.

Many states are in a transportation funding hole because lawmakers feared raising the gas tax to keep up with inflation and the marketplace. Sadly, the mileage tax is not the answer.

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Progress on finding a gay gene http://americablog.com/2014/11/progress-finding-gay-gene.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/progress-finding-gay-gene.html#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:00:58 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124815 A new study has just been published that has some evidence that may support the gay “gene” (or “genes”) concept.

Some research has focused on a number of different areas of human biology. Such diverse areas as brain anatomy, brain physiology, male children’s birth order, mother’s genetic makeup, psychology, social interactions and others, may play a role.

For example, some researchers have found differences in certain physical structures in the brains of straight and gay men. Structures that seem to be different may be the anterior commissure, massa intermedia, suprachiasmatic nucleus and other areas of the hypothalamus.

Other research has shown that birth order of male children in the same family seems to be linked to an increasing chance of later-born children being gay.

Xq28

In the early 1990s some research on the genetics of gay male brothers showed that gay men had more gay uncles and cousins on the maternal side of their families than they did on the paternal side. This implied that there might be a gene on the X chromosome (inherited only from the mother) that was causing some of these men to be gay. Further testing showed that there was an area of X chromosome (Xq28) that was found in a much higher percentage in gay brothers than would be expected. Over the next 20 years, some studies confirmed this result, but a few got significantly different results. And at least one small study showed the opposite result. There’s been some controversy as to whether there is a gay gene, and if so, is it on the X chromosome in the area of Xq28.

Chromosomes 7, 8 and 10

Human chromosomes, by Steffen Dietzel.

Human chromosomes, by Steffen Dietzel.

As research continued, other areas of different chromosomes were implicated as being involved in determining whether an individual male child developed a gay or straight sexual orientation. Some areas of chromosomes 7, 8 and 10 may also contribute to the cause of being gay. Interestingly, some animal studies have shown that a related area of the X chromosome in those animals predisposes to gayness as well.

The most recent study: Xq28 and Chromose 8

The most recent study used a large number of gay brothers and looked closely at their genetic makeup. The findings showed that a discrete area of the X chromosome (Xq28), and a portion of chromosome 8, seemed to predispose to their gayness.

The authors of the study concluded:

Results, especially in the context of past studies, support the existence of genes on pericentromeric chromosome 8 and chromosome Xq28 influencing development of male sexual orientation.

But the statistical analysis doesn’t conclusively demonstrate that the correlation is true. Therefore it doesn’t prove that this particular genetic combination is the cause of homosexuality. But it may suggest that they play a role in determining sexual identity. Perhaps the interactions of the products of these genes predisposes to one’s becoming gay.

While it would be convenient to think that the cause of someone’s sexual orientation might be entirely genetic, research indicates that other factors (biologic, social, psychological, etc.) may still play a role.

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The facts about cardiac arrest and resuscitation (CPR) http://americablog.com/2014/11/facts-cardiac-arrest-resuscitation.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/facts-cardiac-arrest-resuscitation.html#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 17:00:54 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124781 The American Heart Association (AHA) is having its annual Scientific Session and some of the information below is taken from presentations made there.

First, some initial information.

A cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack

A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops pumping. It may stop pumping effectively because of an arrhythmia or chaotic heart rhythm (like ventricular fibrillation.)

Therefore, in some cardiac arrests, the heart is not at a standstill. But since it isn’t pumping, blood pressure falls to zero and the patient rapidly loses consciousness. Almost always without resuscitation the patient will die. The goal of the resuscitation is to get the heart to beat rhythmically again and raise the blood pressure so that blood can perfuse vital organs like the brain, heart, liver, kidneys and others.

A heart attack occurs when the circulation though one or more coronary arteries is blocked. The part of the heart served by that artery gets starved for oxygen and nutrients and may die. A heart attack may cause a cardiac arrest.

Some basic data on cardiac arrests:

  • Almost 400,000 cardiac arrests occur in the United States per year.
  • About 88% of cardiac arrests don’t occur in a hospital, they occur at home. The life you save may be that of a spouse, parent, child, other relative, close friend or neighbor.
  • Many cardiac arrest victims don’t look ill before the arrest. They may not have any history of heart disease or previous heart attack.
  • Only 32% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims receive CPR from a bystander. Because of this and other facts, only about 8% of cardiac arrest patients survive when an arrest occurs at home or in public.
  • Blacks are almost twice as likely to experience cardiac arrests in a public place as whites.
  • A survey showed that 70% of Americans feel helpless during a public cardiac arrest. The reasons are that those people either don’t know how to do CPR, or don’t do it because there has been a lapse between their training in CPR and when they are called upon to use it.
  • More men experience cardiac arrests (53%) than women (47%.)
  • Women tend to have worse outcomes than men when resuscitated.

Early initiation of CPR is important

It follows from some of the above information that if more victims of cardiac arrest received bystander CPR, more might survive. One study looked at how to do just that.

hands-only-cprEmergency Medical Service (EMS) dispatchers were told to get the caller to EMS to start CPR. The dispatchers were given instructions to read to the bystander(s) to walk them through CPR even if they had no previous training. They would read form a script and encourage the bystanders to continue CPR till EMS arrived. Though their instructions were more detailed than this, the AHA recommends the following:

Don’t be afraid; your actions can only help. If you see an unresponsive adult who is not breathing or not breathing normally, call 911 and push hard and fast on the center of the chest.

The data showed that:

  • More bystanders were willing to attempt CPR
  • Time from the receipt of the 911 call to the start of CPR decreased
  • There was an increase in survival from 7.9% to 11.2%

This last data point, that the survival rate increased from 7.9% to 11.2%, might not look like much of an increase. But remember, some of these patients may have been in cardiac arrest for some time before being discovered and there may have been nothing that could have been done to reverse that situation. Or they may have experienced cardiac arrest secondary to another fatal concurrent illness (massive stroke, aneurysm rupture, etc.) that CPR would not cure. And finally, when you do that the math, 7.9% to 11.2% is nearly a 42% increase in survival.

Cardiac arrest survival, male v. female

There are mixed results from data compiled from two European studies.

  • In a French study that reviewed data on almost 500,000 patients, researchers found that more women did not receive CPR from bystanders.
  • More women did not have a “shockable” rhythm [a “shockable” rhythm is one that may convert to a more normal, perfusing rhythm after a shock (defibrillation.) Some rhythms do not respond to shocks.]
  • Many women were older than their male counterparts and may have other associated illnesses.
  • Yet, in spite of these factors, more women who survived the resuscitation were discharged alive from the hospital than were men in similar circumstances. The reason for this is unknown.

But a Dutch study presents some different data.

Researchers identified 22,443 out-of-hospital cardiac deaths (52.8 percent male) and reviewed data on 6,038 out-of-hospital CPR attempts by emergency medical services (72.5 percent male) in the same study region, all aged over 20. They found:

  • Women have a significantly lower chance of receiving a resuscitation attempt from emergency medical personnel than men (15 percent women vs. 35 percent men).
  • Women had a significantly lower chance of successful survival after a resuscitation attempt than men (13 percent women vs. 20 percent men).
  • Women had a lower proportion of “shockable” initial heart rhythm (34 percent women vs. 49 percent men), a strong determinant of survival.

Social factors (such as older women living alone) as well as biological factors (such as women presenting with different symptoms or more heart failure as cause of the sudden cardiac arrest) may be reasons why women have less chance of receiving CPR, researchers said.

Much of the data supports information from the French study – few women have “shockable” rhythms, not as many women as men receive CPR, etc. But the Dutch study didn’t look at the number of women surviving and leaving the hospital love after treatment.

Many of the reasons for the poorer response in women may be due to social circumstances (older, living alone) or medical ones (many older people have more advanced cardiovascular disease, may have other illnesses contributing to the outcome, etc.) Thus, the lower survival rate may not be due to a gender difference. What is surprising is that, in both studies, there were fewer attempts to resuscitate women by both bystanders and by EMS personnel. That isn’t addressed by either data abstract.

The take home message

The take home message is that, in most cases:

  • Cardiac arrest is not a rare event and can often occur in public places or in the home.
  • Cardiac arrest can occur in otherwise healthy-appearing people.
  • More people survive cardiac arrest when bystanders act quickly to start CPR.
  • Bystanders should be trained (and retrained periodically) in CPR and encouraged to initiate resuscitation.

A quick word about “Hands-Only CPR.” John had mentioned to me that when he was in high school, they taught CPR with compressions and breaths. Hands-Only CPR only requires compressions. The American Heart Association has developed this technique for use in witnessed cardiac arrests, meaning you see the person collapse. Formerly, a rescuer gave two breaths and then started chest compressions after first calling 911. It’s been found that usually, in the first few minutes after a cardiac arrest, the victim has enough oxygen in his lungs and blood to supply the tissues without having someone breathe for him.

So, if an adult or teen is seen to collapse, hands-only CPR is appropriate.

But, for infants, children, someone with known breathing problems, drowning victims or an unwitnessd arrest, standard CPR (calling 911, giving breaths alternating with compressions) is preferred.

Rather than get bogged down in the details, use this as your general rule: Hands-only CPR is for a witnessed arrest in an adult or teen. Others will probably need CPR.

To see or learn “Hands-Only CPR,” find CPR classes, get additional information, read stories of resuscitation survivors, and more, check out these videos from the American Heart Association. It’s surprising how easy hands-only CPR really is:

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The Mormon Church’s odd explanation for Joseph Smith’s polygamy http://americablog.com/2014/11/the-mormon-churchs-odd-explanation-for-joseph-smiths-polygamy.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/the-mormon-churchs-odd-explanation-for-joseph-smiths-polygamy.html#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:00:02 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124733 Last week, the Jesus Christ Church of Latter-Day Saints announced that its founder, Joseph Smith, had as many as 40 wives.

The news itself isn’t that surprising, and subsequent assertions in the media that this was the first time the LDS Church had admitted to their founder’s plural marriages are a bit of an exaggeration.

After all, the Church had said many times before that not only did Smith practice polygamy, he received a revelation commanding him to do so in the early 1840s.

Mormons

Mormons via Shutterstock

And, of course, Mormon President Wilford Woodruff received a similar revelation commanding the faith to cease practicing polygamy in 1890 — not too long after the practice was outlawed in the United States.

So the question one has to ask in light of the recent announcement shouldn’t be whether the Church has already acknowledged its history with respect to plural marriage. Instead, we should be asking what’s up with these new “revelations.”

Last week’s announcement includes the word “revelation” thirteen times, the first of which comes in the second paragraph:

// //

//

After receiving a revelation commanding him to practice plural marriage, Joseph Smith married multiple wives and introduced the practice to close associates. This principle was among the most challenging aspects of the Restoration — for Joseph personally and for other Church members…Few Latter-day Saints initially welcomed the restoration of a biblical practice entirely foreign to their sensibilities. But many later testified of powerful spiritual experiences that helped them overcome their hesitation and gave them courage to accept this practice.

Furthermore, Heaven apparently insisted rather strongly. As the announcement continues:

Joseph told associates that an angel appeared to him three times between 1834 and 1842 and commanded him to proceed with plural marriage when he hesitated to move forward. During the third and final appearance, the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully.

In order to understand the above passages, one has to understand that young religions that plan on being successful almost always adopt principles — invariably based on some sort of divine instruction — that are designed to rapidly grow the size of the flock. Mormonism is just the most recent example of a rapidly-expanding religion adopting an evolutionarily-advantageous growth strategy.

And the strategy is working, as Mormonism is one of the fastest-growing religions in America. While the faith no longer practices polygamy, Mormons do still marry early and procreate often. Plus, every member of the religion spends two years spreading the faith through missionary work. If the religion is organized around one guiding principle, that principle is clearly this: Make more Mormons, by any means necessary.

But to say that the Latter-Day Saints considered marriage a divine contract between one man and many women, because it gave them a Darwinian advantage over other religions, would be giving Joseph Smith far more credit than he deserves.

After all, the foundation of Mormonism is the story of a con.

Joseph Smith — himself a previously-convicted fraud — concocted an obviously-false, largely plagiarized story that comprised various elements of spirituality drawn from the “Burned-Over District” of upstate New York that Smith grew up in. In “translating” the Book of Mormon into English, he used “seer stones” that were the centerpiece of the money-digging scheme he had previously been convicted of. And when the the first 116 pages of the translation were lost, the version Smith reproduced was different from the original. A fact that struck many as odd; if the words were in fact dictated by God, they should have been indentical.

Given how ridiculous the story is, it’s a wonder that the religion has seen so much success. But if members of the faith are able to square the first and most absurd circle that is the story of how the religion was founded, rationalizing polygamy as being divinely inspired isn’t all that difficult. As their statement continues:

Although the Lord commanded the adoption — and later the cessation — of plural marriage in the latter days, He did not give exact instructions on how to obey the commandment. Significant social and cultural changes often include misunderstandings and difficulties… Through it all, Church leaders and members sought to follow God’s will.

One can’t help but be reminded of the “revelation” the Mormon faith had that black people were equal to whites — in 1978. (And it’s a revelation they’re still apparently perfecting.)

So we are left with three possible explanations for why Joseph Smith established polygamy as a principle of the Mormon faith. The one being offered to us by the Church (an angel made him do it). The one suggested by the repetition of history (young religions — including Judaism and Islam — often adopt polygamy as part of the larger goal: sustainability and growth). And the one suggested by the biography of the religion’s founder (Joseph Smith was a horny con man).

I’ll leave it to you to decide which is most likely.

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Poll: Americans hate Obamacare (until they use it) http://americablog.com/2014/11/poll-americans-hate-obamacare-unless-actuall-use-love.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/poll-americans-hate-obamacare-unless-actuall-use-love.html#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 13:00:14 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124789 Oh America, you are adorable.

Back in 2010, a Newsweek poll showed that Americans “hate” Obamacare, but loved it component parts.

Even Republicans, who “loathe” Obamacare, overwhelmingly support most of the legislation’s key provisions.

Doc via Shutterstock

Doc via Shutterstock

So it’s shouldn’t come as a surprise that a new Gallup poll shows Americans, yet again, hopping mad about Obamacare.

But as CNN notes, another Gallup poll shows that the actual people who use Obamacare, love it:

Over seven in 10 Americans who bought new health insurance policies through the government exchanges earlier this year rate the quality of their healthcare and their healthcare coverage as “excellent” or “good.” These positive evaluations are generally similar to the reviews that all insured Americans give to their health insurance.

The people who hate the Affordable Care Act are generally people who have no idea what it even does, and who aren’t affected by it at all.

There are a number of lessons here:

1. Democrats stink at messaging.

2. Republicans are awfully good at messaging.

3. Lying doesn’t tend to impede the success of the GOP message machine.

4. Americans are seldom shy about having a strong opinion on something they know nothing about.

In the end, I’d like to say ignore the polls, but the Republicans are so good at misrepresenting the truth, that even a lie — especially a lie — can do a lot of damage. I’ve said from day one that Democrats were doing a lousy job of selling their programs. Whether it was the stimulus that quite literally saved our country, or Obamacare, that wasn’t all we wanted, but it also wasn’t too shoddy either.

Unfortunately in life, and politics, doing good isn’t enough. You have to market what you’re selling, and continue to market it even after it’s sold. The bad guys won’t stop trying to shoot it down. And you should never cease defending it.

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Sasha learns to “roll over”…. ish http://americablog.com/2014/11/sasha-learns-roll-ish.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/sasha-learns-roll-ish.html#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 02:41:05 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124800 At first, my dog Sasha was a quick study when it came to learning tricks.

I taught hit sit, lay down, and give me your paw all in a matter of minutes, really. It was bizarre how quickly she learned. (She’s a Yorkie-Bichon mix.)

But after those three, in the first few months, it was slow going for a good 4+ years.

The thing is, with a small dog, it’s not easy teaching them some of the tricks. For example, “roll over.” They tell you to sort of take a treat and move it over the dog’s head, then “help” the dog roll over with your hand.

Heh. Fat chance.

I don’t know about a big dog, but a small dog just kind of looks at you like you’re crazy when your hand is gently trying to “help” him turn over.

sasha-roll-over-2

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

So, after four years of trying to teach Sasha to “roll over,” I’m pretty happy with where we ended up, only this past week.

Now, officially, this isn’t quite “roll over.” But she’s consistent with it, and does it every time. And you know, after 4 years, I’ll take it.

(Of course, I don’t plan on showing you the outtakes. First time around, Sasha kind of did all her tricks at once, without me asking her, hoping it would lead to a treat. It did not.)

Enjoy. (And watch closely, has a whole tongue-thing going on towards the end of the maneuver.)

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New research on keeping you safer from stroke http://americablog.com/2014/11/stroke-research-prevention-symptoms.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/stroke-research-prevention-symptoms.html#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 21:39:25 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124736 Women have a somewhat higher risk of stroke than men, but men can also be at significant risk.

Many people think that strokes are just events that happen to the elderly who have hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Not true. Depending on a number of factors, strokes can occur at any age. Some infants suffer strokes during delivery. Children, teens and young adults are not immune to strokes, either. Individual risk factors, concomitant diseases and genetics play a role.

The number of new first-time strokes can be decreased. The factors that account for almost 90% of strokes can be modified by patients. The recommendations to decrease stroke risk include:

Dietary

Eat a Mediterranean or DASH-type (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet

The two diets are fairly similar. The AHA suggests:

  • Emphasizing vegetables, fruits, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  • Including whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • Limiting sodium, sweets, sugary beverages, and red meats.
Nuts, via Shutterstock

Nuts, via Shutterstock

Both diets should be supplemented with nuts like almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts, but almost any nut is beneficial. Just don’t eat too many, they are calorie-dense and can increase your weight unless you cut back on calories elsewhere in your diet.

The following study was done on a large number of American women. It is unknown if the results hold true for men, as well. Researchers reviewed information on measly 100,000 women in the age range of 50-79. They followed the women for up to 11 years. They looked at how much potassium the women ingested (from foods, not supplements) and whether they had strokes or died during the study period.

The investigation revealed:

  • Women who ate the most potassium were 12 percent less likely to suffer stroke in general and 16 percent less likely to suffer an ischemic stroke than women who ate the least.
  • Women who ate the most potassium were 10 percent less likely to die than those who ate the least.
  • Among women who did not have hypertension (whose blood pressure was normal and they were not on any medications for high blood pressure), those who ate the most potassium had a 27 percent lower ischemic stroke risk and 21 percent reduced risk for all stroke types, compared to women who ate the least potassium in their daily diets.
  • Among women with hypertension (whose blood pressure was high or they were taking drugs for high blood pressure), those who ate the most potassium had a lower risk of death, but potassium intake did not lower their stroke risk.
  • They also noted that most older American women do not eat the recommended amounts of potassium from foods.

Non-dietary interventions

If you have high blood pressure (hypertension):

  • Monitor your blood pressure (BP) at home with a cuff-device.
  • Help get your BP into a healthy range by: decreasing salt intake, getting regular exercise.
  • Have your BP checked at least 1-2 X per year by your doctor during regular visits.
  • If you’re on a medication to lower your BP and it isn’t working or it’s causing you side effects, let your doctor know so he can change the dose, change the medication, add another medication, etc. DON’T just stop taking it without telling him. [This also holds true if you find your medication to be too expensive – talk to your doctor. He may be able to prescribe something less expensive.]
  • Stop smoking and avoid second hand smoke. Women who smoke and are on birth control pills have a higher risk of stroke than similar women who are non-smokers.

If you have hypertension, even a small weight gain can make your BP higher than it was previously, so keep an eye on your weight, as well.

Some stroke signs and symptoms to watch for

Some common stroke warning signs. Think FAST (as in F, A, S, T):

F- Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or does it feel numb? Look for facial asymmetry. When, on command, the patient smiles, wrinkles forehead, etc. see if one side doesn’t move or droops.

A – Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb. Ask the patient to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward when he tries to hold them steady at shoulder height. (There may also be similar symptoms in a leg.)

S – Speech Difficulty: Can the patient speak? Is the speech slurred? Is the patient hard to understand? Ask the patient to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Does he understand and is the sentence repeated correctly?

T – Time to call 911: If the person shows any of the above symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Additional stroke signs: Sudden severe headache with no known cause; sudden trouble walking or dizziness, loss of balance, poor coordination; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes or other unusual visual symptoms; sudden onset of confusion or difficulty in understanding speech, having difficulty reading and understanding.

In general, the faster the patient gets to the hospital, the better the prognosis. For example, if the patient has a clot in a blood vessel in the brain, he may need a “clot buster” drug (a special anticoagulant). If so, there’s only a limited time that drug will be effective after the onset of stroke symptoms. Delaying the trip to the hospital, might cause him to lose a chance of getting this drug if it is needed.

For more information on stroke, stroke research and prevention and additional information you can go to: http://www.heart.org

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Why didn’t people vote this year? http://americablog.com/2014/11/why-didnt-people-vote-year.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/why-didnt-people-vote-year.html#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:00:17 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124730 This year’s midterms featured the lowest voter turnout in a federal election since World War II. Only 36.4% of the voting-eligible population cast ballots, which we’d be more willing to forgive if a sizeable chunk of our population were in Europe fighting the Nazis.

Seriously, why didn’t so many people vote?

Last week, Pew came out with some answers. In their post-election survey of eligible voters, they found a number of things.

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 1.56.46 PMWhile there isn’t a whole lot to go on in these numbers, it seems that the two-thirds of the non-voting American public can be broken down into two camps: those for whom non-voting was unavoidable, and those for whom it was totally avoidable.

Fofty-four percent of non-voters either answered that they were too busy/sick/forgetful to vote or that they made a conscious decision not to vote based on a lack of preference or information — not much can be done here. While there are some things that can be done on the margins to lower the percentage of citizens who fall in this camp, such as a more inspiring slate of candidates or better campaigns, there wasn’t much that could have been done on an institutional level to make these citizens more likely to vote.

But 45% of non-voters missed Election Day either due to work/school conflicts or missing a registration deadline/recently moving/not being able make it to their polling location. From the perspective of the state, this is a massive problem.

Keep in mind, this subset of non-voters is about the same size as this year’s electorate. There were as many people wanted to vote, but were unable to do so for lack of access, as there were people who voted in the first place.

There are a few obvious ways to fix this.

Opt-Out Voter Registration

Placing the responsibility of voter registration on the citizen, instead of on the state, is a relic of 19th Century disenfranchisement. Originally designed to make sure that a new influx of immigrants didn’t sway elections, registration laws also disproportionately affected working class citizens, who were (as one could guess) at work when assessors came by to register voters during the run-up to elections.

As other countries have industrialized and democratized, almost none have placed similar burdens on their citizens to opt in to the democratic process because such burdens don’t make any sense. We don’t register for our right to free speech; why should we have to register for our right to vote? To this point, 84% of European countries currently have some form of universalized voter registration.

Establishing a federal registrar and ensuring that every citizen is registered to vote, with the option of filling out a form to un-register, would boost voter turnout overnight. States with same-day voter registration — Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, among others — have consistently higher levels of voter turnout than states with registration deadlines that extend to over a month before Election Day. Remove registration as a barrier to entry in the electoral marketplace and, as Pew’s numbers show, you’ve immediately expanded the market.

The Voting Week and Mail-in Balloting

As I wrote following the 2012 elections, “The decision to hold Election Day on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November was one of the biggest expansions of the franchise the United States had ever seen — in 1845.” Being an agrarian society, Tuesday was deemed the most suitable day to hold elections because it would allow farmers the time to make it into town without interfering with either the Sabbath (Sunday) or market day (Wednesday).

As with voter registration, this remains public policy for no other reason than the fact that we haven’t bothered to stop and think about whether it’s still a good idea (it isn’t).

Some states have opened avenues for their citizens to vote on days that are more convenient for them. Many states offer no-excuse early voting — in Iowa, voters begin casting ballots over a month before Election Day — and others have done away with the ballot box altogether and hold their elections exclusively by mail.

So why not mail every registered voter a ballot in advance of Election Day and let them choose whether or not to mail it in or cast one at their polling place during an Election Week? Coupled with the national voter registrar mentioned above, we would be more than capable of making sure that everyone’s vote was counted once and only once.

It’s no surprise that the more flexibility citizens have with respect to when and how they cast their ballots, the more citizens actually vote. Establishing a Voting Week and/or Mail-in Balloting would remove the work and school conflicts that accounted for 35% of all non-voting in this year’s election (multiplying that by the proportion of citizens who didn’t vote, that’s about 22% of the entire eligible voting population).

In any given election, there is a certain subset of the population that isn’t going to vote no matter what, so there’s no reason to set 100% voter turnout as a goal for any given election, especially a midterm. However, 36.4% is abysmal, and about half of the blame can be placed on the institutional framework we have established to conduct our elections.

That the solutions are so easy only makes action that much more important.

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“La Fiancée de Frankenstein” http://americablog.com/2014/11/frances-republicans-learned-wrong-lesson-americas-gop.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/frances-republicans-learned-wrong-lesson-americas-gop.html#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:00:31 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124740 Once upon a time, in a land called America, some angry old men got together and decided that the only way they could guarantee their party’s future at the ballot box was by inking the proverbial deal with the devil.

Their party was the GOP, and their devil wrapped itself in the mantle of God.

Fast forward to today.

While the leadership of the Republican party is still controlled by the far right, there’s been a schism of sorts between the fiscally-conservative Tea Party and the religiously-conservative party of God.

Republicans have found that their courtship of America’s religious right has created a tolerance gap in the mind of the voters between the GOP and Democrats.

Jerry Falwell.

Jerry Falwell.

And party leaders are now concerned that the perception of Republicans as angry and intolerant may doom their chances at taking back the White House for years to come.

Colin Powell, for example, recently lamented the Republican party’s “vein of intolerance.”

And GOP Senator Lindsey Graham went even farther when he declared that the Republicans were facing a “demographic death spiral” from the party’s alienation of Latinos, but also other minorities, like gays, and women.

Take the gay marriage debate.

Have you heard any Republican, outside of the religious right or Ted Cruz, seriously take on marriage equality lately at the federal level? While Republicans at the state level have pulled out all the stops in an attempt to stop gays and lesbian from attaining their civil rights, at the national level the party has developed a severe case of political laryngitis.

And even at the state level, such as in Arizona recently, where Republicans passed a Citizens United type legislation directed at gays, the local GOP quickly relented when even Fox News criticized the party’s anti-gay plans as “Jim Crow for homosexuals.”

France is about to eat its own crow. The country is currently run by a socialist president by the name of François Hollande. Among Hollande’s many campaign promises was the nationwide legalization of same-sex unions, and in 2013 he accomplished just that.

France's first married gay couple.

France’s first married gay couple.

France has two main political parties (though there are many others). The right-wing UMP (Union for a Popular Movement), and the left-wing Socialist Party. And while the Socialist Party would be pretty left-wing for Americans, the UMP, as described by my French friends on the right, is more like America’s Democrats.

But lately, the UMP has been acting a lot more like American Republicans.

You see, the UMP has decided that the way to win its way back into the halls of power is by embracing, and empowering, France’s religious right; and specifically, promoting a nationwide platform of homophobia.

France’s conservatives, in a cry led by former President Sarkozy, are now talking of repealing the right of gay couples to marry in that country. This is part of a larger rapprochement between the UMP and France’s nascent religious right.

"La Fiancée de Frankenstein." Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and religious right leader Frigide Barjot.

“La Fiancée de Frankenstein.” Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and religious right leader Frigide Barjot.

To appreciate how big of a deal this is, you have to remember that France, like most of western Europe, isn’t terribly religious. So the notion of involving religion in politics, let alone a major political party embracing such heresy, is alien to the French. Until now.

After it became clear that France was on the inevitable road towards legalizing gay marriage, the country’s religious right (a combination of the Catholic church, and a small group of extreme religious conservatives operating in cahoots with American religious right leaders), launched a series of violent protesters, which included both anti-semites and neo-nazis.

And you know who else played a lead role in the organized national homophobia? France’s UMP political party, and the man who wants to be its future leader, former President Sarkozy, who railed this weekend about his plans to rip the civil and human rights away from France’s gay and lesbian citizens.

(Sarkozy is an unlikely defender of marriage and the family, as he’s currently on his third of each. “Liberté, Égalité, Divorcé”?)

Whether in the end America’s religious right gave the UMP the crazy idea that cozying up to homophobes was la bonne politique, or whether Sarkozy and France’s “Democrats” came up with the terrible idea all by themselves, it’s a fool’s errand.

At a time when America’s conservatives have learned all too late that intolerance is no longer a ticket to higher office, and the world is increasingly embracing gay people and their rights, it’s beyond bizarre that a country that owns the patent on “love” would look to imitate Moscow when it comes to human rights.

The France I know is better than this.

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Short-take: Obamacare has cut premium increases http://americablog.com/2014/11/short-take-obamacare-cut-premium-increases.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/short-take-obamacare-cut-premium-increases.html#comments Sat, 15 Nov 2014 19:00:01 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124728 We learn from ThinkProgress that Obamacare has apparently cut health insurance premium increases for the second year in a row.

Oops.

More from ThinkProgress:

For the second year in a row, Obamacare premiums are lower than anticipated and millions of Americans can expect to find affordable health insurance options during the second open enrollment period.

A Center for American Progress analysis of 2015 premium rates for the individual market in states with Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces shows that premiums will increase by an average of only 3.9 percent from 2014 to 2015. This average is for individual coverage for a 27 or 40 year old across all plans in each metal level in each state and weighted by each state’s enrollment by metal level in 2014.

Santa's elves want you to get enrolled in Obamacare.

Santa’s elves want you to get enrolled in Obamacare.


PS As I noted earlier today, I’ve been finding that I’m posting far more things on Facebook than I am on my own blog, because they’re short interesting, or funny things, and I didn’t feel right posting something short on the blog. Such as this post.

But, this is stuff you should read, or it’s stuff that’s funny and worth reading, so I’m no longer going to bite my tongue. You will now occasionally, perhaps even often, get some “short takes” on the blog. They may be just a link to a story, but they’re a story I think you should read.

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Canadian PM disses Putin at G20 http://americablog.com/2014/11/canadian-pm-disses-putin-g20.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/canadian-pm-disses-putin-g20.html#comments Sat, 15 Nov 2014 16:37:24 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124725 I considered not posting this, because it’s so short, then decided to anyway.

I may start posting some of these shorter tidbits that I post on my Facebook account. I generally don’t like to post quick takes on the blog, as I don’t want folks to feel cheated in some way, that they clicked to only read a paragraph. Then again, some of this stuff is really good, and we are a Twitter/Facebook short-take culture, so perhaps a few small things throughout the day might be fun.

You are forwarned if you see me posting a lot of short things. This is why.

putin dancing 300px

Russian President Vladimir Putin is at the G20 summit in Australia, and is apparently getting an earful from western leaders. Including this:

“‘I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I have only one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine,’ [Canadian Prime Minister Stephen] Harper told Putin at the summit in Brisbane, Australia, according to his spokesman Jason MacDonald.”

Meow.

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“Gay no more” man arrested for fraud earlier this year http://americablog.com/2014/11/gay-man-arrested-fraud-earlier-year.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/gay-man-arrested-fraud-earlier-year.html#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 16:05:33 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124718 “Cured” homosexual Andrew Caldwell is facing increasing scrutiny after it was revealed that he was arrested for insurance fraud back in May of this year.

Caldwell, you might recall, was the lovely young man who, on attending this year’s pentecostal COGIC (Church of God in Christ) religious conference in St. Louis, loudly proclaimed before the assembled throng and the cameras, in quite possibly the gayest voice known to man:

“I’m not gay no more. I’ve been DELIVERED! I don’t like mens no more! I said I like women! Women women women women!

If you haven’t seen it, the video of his deliverance is something to behold:

As you can imagine, there was some skepticism as to whether Mr. Bow-Tie-And-Paisley was truly cured of The Gay. Well, now we know from the CBS affiliate in Atlanta that Caldwell was arrested earlier this year for insurance fraud. I found his mugshot online:

gay-no-more-caldwell-mug-shot

His church is now defending itself, issuing a statement that was clearly defensive. So defensive in fact, the church felt the need to speak out agai˜st anti-gay violence:

A video, which is now viral, of a young man stating his deliverance from a particular lifestyle does not, in any capacity, speak to all of the remarkable things that transpired during this great church convention. We believe that we should reflect the love and compassion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in all that we do. We do not in any way compromise our biblical position against same sex unions or in favor of biblical teaching on matters of sexual conduct.

At the same time we expect that our clergy and laity will be civil and considerate as they speak to men and women regarding issues related to our Christian faith. We love all people, regardless of their faith or moral standards. When we fail to express ourselves with love and humility we contradict our witness to the world. Furthermore, the Church of God in Christ wholly condemns acts of violence against and the subjugation of any person to verbal or physical harassment on the basis of their sexual stance. Such actions violate entirely the Christian’s obligation to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

The Church of God in Christ will have no further comment on this matter.

Well, where do you think the violence comes from?

PS If you didn’t seem them in my earlier post, do check out the wonderful response to Caldwell:

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Not so lame after all http://americablog.com/2014/11/lame-duck-obama.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/lame-duck-obama.html#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 13:00:43 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124714 Jonathan Cohn observes over at the New Republic that President Obama, for a “lame duck” after the disastrous midterm elections, sure isn’t acting very lame.

Cohn points to the fact that Ebola is now a big yawn, after GOP critics said Obama was under-acting to the “crisis” that failed to turn into an actual crisis.

And he points to the reportedly rather-big deal the President inked with the Chinese this week on climate change.

And I’d point to one more thing: immigration.

Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner, 2014

Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner, 2014

The Obama administration let slip yesterday that the President is ready to take executive action on the immigration issue that would shield possibly 5 million undocumented (aka here illegally) immigrants from deportation, and it would provide many of them with work permits.

Now, the President hasn’t done anything yet. And you can be sure the Republicans won’t be pleased. But it’s still a rather gutsy move, considering the Republicans basically threatened to impeach the President last week if he did anything administrative on immigration.

And it’s a rather smart move politically as well. Not only does the President, and the party, get credit with Latinos for attempting to move forward on immigration reform, but at the same time he puts Republicans in an impossible position. The GOP base is apoplectic about the potential of any reform. Yet, saner party leaders know that Republicans are in danger of losing Latinos forever (other than Cubans, Latinos tend to vote Democratic). So the President effectively puts Republicans in a box — dog-fight style — two years before a presidential.

And that, my friends, might just help a Democrat win the White House yet again.

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Drone Boning, intelligent drones “that learn,” and freaky robots http://americablog.com/2014/11/drone-boning-intelligent-drones-can-learn.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/drone-boning-intelligent-drones-can-learn.html#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 16:56:21 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124708 I hadn’t heard about this one. Stephen Colbert does a segment on a new film, “Drone Boning,” that’s a voyeuristic take on aerial drones.

The film recruited volunteers to have sex while a drone flew over. The film is shot well, with beautiful music, and is actually artistically interesting. It’s also something I can’t post here, but you can go see it on Vimeo.

Colbert then gets into the issue of drones that learn. Apparently, DARPA is working on creating drones that can learn as they go alone.

What could possibly go wrong, Colbert notes, with arming a weapon, setting it free, and giving it a mind of its own.

Speaking of terrifying new technology, here’s a robot being worked on by a company owned by Google. It practices its human-like balancing skills.

I’m not one who’s actdually afraid of technology. But it’s not implausible that machines that are taught to think might one day think bad thoughts.

Did I say “overlords”? I meant “protectors.”

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Stephen Colbert: Anatomy of a GOP hatchet job (video) http://americablog.com/2014/11/stephen-colbert-anatomy-gop-hatchet-job-video.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/stephen-colbert-anatomy-gop-hatchet-job-video.html#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 13:00:37 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124702 I’m going to miss this Stephen Colbert.

He reports on an interesting little story from the other day, that perfectly illustrates the GOP noise machine.

You see, President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch to be his new Attorney General nominee. A Breitbart writer flipped out, since everyone knows Loretta Lynch was involved in Whitewater, that Clinton-era scandal that no one actually cared or cares about, and Colbert refers to as the “Benghazi” of its day.

Of course, as luck would have it, Breitbart got its Loretta Lynchs confused. It seems a different Loretta Lynch was involved in Whitewater. But as Colbert shows, it’s an honest mistake — the two women look an awful lot alike:

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Another interesting thing Colbert notes is that the “correction” from Breitbart, that they got the entire story wrong, was posted at the END of the story. In other words, the entire wrong story was left up, and you had to get to the end for the “never mind.” Which led Colbert to note, at the end of his segment, that Breitbart did in fact finally take the story down, leading him to amend his claim that they’re “craven political hatchet men.”

colbert-breitbart-lynch

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