Author Archive | majestic

You Are Not Nearly Scared Enough About Ebola

2014 West Africa Ebola virus outbreak situation map.jpg

2014 West Africa Ebola virus outbreak situation map by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via Wikimedia Commons.

“Experimental drugs and airport screenings will do nothing to stop this plague. If Ebola hits Lagos, we’re in real trouble,” says Laurie Garrett at Foreign Policy:

Attention, World: You just don’t get it.

You think there are magic bullets in some rich country’s freezers that will instantly stop the relentless spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa? You think airport security guards in Los Angeles can look a traveler in the eyes and see infection, blocking that jet passenger’s entry into La-la-land? You believe novelist Dan Brown’s utterly absurd description of a World Health Organization that has a private C5-A military transport jet and disease SWAT team that can swoop into outbreaks, saving the world from contagion?

Wake up, fools. What’s going on in West Africa now isn’t Brown’s silly Inferno scenario — it’s Steven Soderbergh’s movie Contagion, though without a modicum of its high-tech capacity.

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Guide Dogs and Guns: America’s Blind Gunmen

Silhouette GunEven if you blindly support the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution (the right to bear arms and all that), does it follow that you let blind people own guns? From BBC News:

In the US, being blind is no bar to owning and carrying firearms. The blind people who do it say they are simply exercising their constitutional right, and present no danger to the public.

When Carey McWilliams went to the sheriff’s office in Fargo, North Dakota, to fill out the paperwork for a permit to carry a concealed weapon, the staff immediately noticed he was holding the harness to a guide dog.

The woman behind the desk pointed out that he would have to pass a shooting test before being granted the licence, but McWilliams said he knew that. He told her not to worry.

“So then she took a picture of me, and my application then went up through the ranks – it got the signature of the chief of police of Fargo, the sheriff and the state attorney general’s office – and they kept calling me and calling me, saying: ‘There’s a shooting test, there’s a shooting test.’”

The day of the test came, and McWilliams duly went along to the police firing range with a friend who was also trying for a permit.

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The United States of America Is Not For Black People

Kid Handcuffed in the Back of a Police Car, Oakland RiotsDo you agree with Greg Howard that “the United States of America is not for black people,” which he writes at Deadspin’s The Concourse?

The United States of America is not for black people. We know this, and then we put it out of our minds, and then something happens to remind us. Saturday, in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., something like that happened: An unarmed 18-year-old black man was executed by police in broad daylight.

By now, what’s happening in Ferguson is about so many second-order issues—systemic racism, the militarization of police work, and how citizens can redress grievances, among other things—that it’s worth remembering what actually happened here.

Michael Brown was walking down the middle of the street in Ferguson’s Canfield Green apartment complex around noon on Saturday with his friend Dorin Johnson when the two were approached by a police officer in a police truck.

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Ron Paul Says U.S. ‘Likely Hiding Truth’ About MH17 Crash

Ron Paul, official 109th Congress photoEx-Congressman Ron Paul, libertarian hero and father of current presidential hopeful Rand Paul, has never been one to shirk a controversial statement, but really, an MH17 conspiracy theory? From his Voices of Liberty (click for audio of his reading the statement below):

The U.S. government has grown strangely quiet on the accusation that it was Russia or her allies that brought down the Malaysian airliner with a buck anti-aircraft missile.

The little that we have heard from U.S. intelligence is that it has no evidence that Russia was involved. Yet the war propaganda was successful in convincing the American public that it was all Russia’s fault. It’s hard to believe that the U.S., with all of its spy satellites available for monitoring everything in Ukraine that precise proof of who did what and when is not available.

When evidence contradicts our government’s accusations, the evidence is never revealed to the public—for national security reasons, of course.

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Charles Koch Publishes His Agenda

David Koch - CaricatureCharles Koch, one half of the notorious Koch Brothers (sort of like the Kray Brothers, but way more successful at getting away with their crimes), has published his wish list agenda in USA Today. Be warned, these guys are used to getting their way…

…First, we need to encourage principled entrepreneurship. Companies should earn profits by creating value for customers and acting with integrity, the opposite of today’s rampant cronyism.

Too many businesses focus on getting subsidies and mandates from government rather than creating value for customers. According to George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, such favors cost us more than $11,000 per person in lost GDP every year, a $3.6 trillion economic hit.

Compounding the problem are destructive regulations affecting whether and how business invests and employees work. Federal rules cost America an estimated $1.86 trillion per year, calculated the Competitive Enterprise Institute. At Koch Industries, we’ve seen how punitive permitting for large projects creates years of delay, increasing uncertainty and cost.

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The CIA is getting away with keeping every important secret about torture

“A definitive Senate report about one of America’s darkest periods continues to be withheld – precisely because the agency behind it refuses to come clean,” writes Trevor Timm at The Guardian:

At this point, is there anything the Central Intelligence Agency thinks it can’t get away with?

To recap: the CIA systematically tortured people, then lied about it. Destroyed evidence of it, then lied about that. Spied on the US Senate staffers investigating the agency for torture, then lied about that. Now, after somehow being put in charge of deciding what parts of the Senate’s final report on that torture should be redacted, the CIA has predictively censored the key evidence of the litany of all of those transgressions.

The agency’s black marker has reportedly censored – at different points in the report – already-public, embarrassing and criminally culpable information. By doing so, the CIA has rendered it, as one Senator noted, “incomprehensible”.

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Rand Paul, Kennedy and the ‘Libertarian Moment’

Rand Paul (7004226384)

Rand Paul. Photo: Gage Skidmore [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

One has a feeling that we’re going to be seeing an awful lot more of Rand Paul in the media over the next two years. The New York Times Magazine kicks off with a lengthy piece about Paul and the “libertarian moment” (whatever that is):

“Let’s say Ron Paul is Nirvana,” said Kennedy, the television personality and former MTV host, by way of explaining the sort of politician who excites libertarians like herself. “Like, the coolest, most amazing thing to come along in years, and the songs are nebulous but somehow meaningful, and the lead singer kills himself to preserve the band’s legacy.

“Then Rand Paul — he’s Pearl Jam. Comes from the same place, the songs are really catchy, can really pack the stadiums, though it’s not quite Nirvana.

“Ted Cruz? He’s Stone Temple Pilots. Tries really hard to sound like Pearl Jam, never gonna sound like Nirvana.

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Why Aren’t More Americans Atheists?

Meslier.jpg

Jean Meslier, 17th Century French Catholic priest who was discovered, upon his death, to have written a book-length philosophical essay promoting atheism.

“Turns out it has nothing to do with science. And everything to do with politics,” writes Nick Spencer at Politico:

Many expressed surprise recently when, in one of its periodic surveys of Americans’ views of other faiths, the Pew Research Center found that atheists fare poorly—fully 40 percent of those polled described their views toward atheists as “cold.” Jews, Catholics, Evangelicals, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons—all are viewed more favorably than nonbelievers. Only around 2 percent of Americans identify themselves as atheists, even though religious observance, measured by things like church attendance and daily prayer, has been trending downward for decades.

You might think that America would be fertile ground for the rise of atheism. After all, the United States is the most scientifically advanced society in human existence, and as far as atheism has a history—and it is an oddly uncharted one—it is popularly believed to be of slow, steady scientific advance.

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