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Police Officer In Ferguson Is Said To Recount A Struggle - NYTimes.com

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-10-17 21:37
WASHINGTON — The police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., two months ago has told investigators that he was pinned in his vehicle and in fear for his life as he struggled over his gun with Mr. Brown, according to government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation into the matter.

Why Do We Keep Perpetuating Myths About the Man Called the Father of the Atomic Bomb?

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-10-17 21:31
The New York Times manages to revive the myth of atomic scientist Robert Oppenheimer as a man broken, his career ended by a long-discredited security hearing in the 1950s, in spite of plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Last Sunday The New York Times ran a story headlined "Transcripts Kept Secret for 60 Years Bolster Defense of Oppenheimer's Loyalty," written by William J. Broad. The first paragraph explains that Oppenheimer, in the heat of the anti-Communist crusades of the 1950s, was accused of being a Soviet spy and was subjected to a hearing that essentially branded him a security risk -- even though he had been celebrated at the end of World War II as the man most responsible for producing the atomic bomb.

The newly declassified pages of that hearing, according to Broad's story, offered no damning evidence against Robert Oppenheimer and, in fact, tended to exonerate him. Most of the redacted material was, in fact, in support of Oppenheimer, and several of the experts mentioned in the article were at a loss to see why the Energy Department, the successor to the Atomic Energy Commission, which pilloried Oppenheimer, should have withheld the material.

As an author, along with historian Patricia Klaus, of the nonfiction book An Atomic Love Story: The Extraordinary Women in Robert Oppenheimer's Life, I was not surprised by any of the material included in the Times story. In fact, we were aware of some of the information Broad seems to think is new, such as the part of physicist Isidor I. Rabi's testimony at the hearing that has him saying, in defense of Oppenheimer, "We have an A-bomb. What more do you want? Mermaids?"

But the major reporting mistake in this article, it seems to me, comes in the second paragraph, when the Times reporter claims that the revocation of Robert Oppenheimer's security clearance in the spring of 1954 "brought his career to a humiliating close, and Oppenheimer, until then a hero of American science, lived out his life a broken man."

Not so. Not by a long shot. Oppenheimer's last years were spent at the helm of the prestigious Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. As we write in our book:

Robert worked hard to erase the image of his martyrdom, though it would linger in the American mindset into the next century. Under Robert's directorship, the Institute became an international center of intellectual achievement. Young academics saw it as a kind of Camelot.

He also continued to lecture around the country and the world, usually to packed houses. And almost always, he included in these lectures his thoughts on the responsibilities of living with the threat of nuclear war. He was not broken; he did not give up. While reporter Broad may have deduced that the recently declassified pages "suggest that Oppenheimer was anything but disloyal," most of us knew that more than half a century ago.

Friday Talking Points -- Don't Panic

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-10-17 21:18

That headline, of course, quotes the cover to the fictional Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy: "Don't Panic." This week, it seems like timely advice, as the news media and American politicians go into full-blown panic mode over one death and two illnesses within the United States.


We'll get to all that in a bit, since we will be pre-empting our talking points this week for my own "Don't panic!" rant (which, for science-fiction fans who were already thrilled with this week's title, will also quote the learned philosopher Ellen Ripley). But first let's quickly run through some other political news, before we get to the idiocy of the "travel ban fever" running rampant among American politicians.


The biggest news from any of the myriad state-level candidate debates held in the past week came out of Florida, where Governor Rick Scott refused to appear (for seven agonizingly long minutes) on stage with Charlie Crist's fan. No, really. "Fangate" became a thing this week.


Late-night comic Craig Ferguson, tried to helpfully explain the political theater to his audience by quipping (this is from memory, I should mention, and not a transcript): "There's a difference, of course, between a politician and a fan. One oscillates back and forth and blows a steady stream of hot air in your face... and the other is a fan."


Late-night humor aside, the ad wars are getting fierce, in the home stretch of the 2014 campaign, including one Republican virtual clone of the infamous Willie Horton ad, now running in Nebraska. Outside of the ad wars, Republicans are showing they know how to charm the lady voters, once again, as state lawmaker Steve Vaillancourt of New Hampshire offered his thoughts on a House race in his state: "Let's be honest. Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin? And I hope I haven't offended sin." He also compared her to a "drag queen." This provoked one of the best responses I've ever heard in politics, from Jess McIntosh of EMILY's List: "This is a lawmaker? Like, a person who makes laws? This person has no business anywhere near laws that affect women or other human beings." Well said!


In other crazy and offensive things said by Republicans (always a fertile field, it seems), President Obama is either secretly leading Africa instead of the United States, or just plain crazy (according to that noted expert on sanity, Donald Trump). And an elected Republican official in Missouri is trying to talk the American military into launching a coup against Obama. No, really. She responded to the uproar her comments caused by stating: "Something innocent and simple got twisted into a disaster because it's an election." Um, no. In fact, a disaster got elected to an innocent and simple job because of a previous election. She's up for re-election this year, too (so get out and vote, non-seditious people of Jefferson County, Missouri!).


Federal judge and wife-beater Mark Fuller has still inexplicably not been impeached.


A candidate for Senate died, and the mainstream media largely yawned and ignored it. Doug Butzier was the Libertarian candidate in a race that could be decided by a razor-thin margin in Iowa, so you'd think more people would be analyzing the possible effect, but sadly, this has not happened.


It's a new week, so Marco Rubio has a brand-new ISIS-fighting strategy! Which completely contradicts all his other positions on the issue, but hey, who's counting?


John McCain called for Obama to appoint a "Ebola czar," which he promptly did. Wonder how long it'll be before McCain and other Republicans start complaining about all of Obama's czars again? Here's McCain, tweeting from 2009: "Obama has more czars than the Romanovs - who ruled Russia for 3 centuries. Romanovs 18, cyberczar makes 20." How quickly we all forget, eh?


Sam Stein of the Huffington Post has been doing an exemplary job reporting on how we got to where we are now on public health and Ebola, first getting a stunning interview with the head of the National Institutes of Health. You'd think a statement like: "Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine [for Ebola] in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready," would have raised some interest in other parts of the media, but not so much. Stein followed this scoop up with a deeper dive into why we were so unprepared for Ebola, which is also a heck of a lot better journalism than anything you see on television these days.


And finally, just to end on a light note (don't panic!), President Obama's credit card just got declined. Don't you hate it when that happens?


 



Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania deserves at least an Honorable Mention this week, for focusing in on actually doing something productive which might wind up doing some good in the midst of the Ebola panic. Rather than beating the "travel ban" drums, Casey instead called for more money for the "Hospital Preparedness Program," which as you can see (from the chart) has had its budget slashed in recent years. Bravo to Senator Casey for being just about the only person in Washington who has proposed something useful that might actually be quite proactive in the future, instead of demagoguing and scapegoating along with the rest of the political world.


But the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award goes to Charlie Crist and his campaign team. After "Fangate," the Florida Democratic Party wasted not a second of time in getting a hilarious ad up on the air. The ad ends with quite possibly the funniest thing we've yet heard in the 2014 election cycle: "Next debate airs Tuesday. It's going to be cool." Crist's campaign is also now going to send donors a hand-held fan if they donate at least five bucks.


Now that's the way to immediately take advantage of your opponent shooting himself in the foot, folks! The Florida Democratic Party, for their lighting-quick ad (and for their "cool" sense of humor), has more than earned this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week.


[Congratulate the Florida Democratic Party on their web page, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]


 



Occasionally, however, Democratic candidates want to run edgy ads and just go too far. We have two Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards this week, the first for Wendy Davis and her "wheelchair" ad in the Texas gubernatorial race, and the second for Alison Lundergan Grimes for her "amnesty" ad in the Kentucky Senate race, where she attempted to get to the right of Mitch McConnell on immigration.


Both these ads were roundly criticized, for good reason. The Grimes ad, in particular, drew condemnation from such progressive groups as MoveOn and Democracy For America. Without bothering to list the reasons why these ads are more than a little bit disappointing (follow those links if you haven't heard the stories yet), we hereby award both Wendy Davis and Alison Lundergan Grimes the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award. There is such a thing as "too far" in campaign ads, and both crossed that line, we feel.


[For legal reasons, we do not link to current campaign websites, so you'll have to search out contact information for Wendy Davis and Alison Lundergan Grimes yourself, to let them know what you think of their campaign tactics.]


 



Volume 324 (10/17/14)


I don't know about you, but I'm in the mood for a good rant.


I've already posted one rant this week, on the Ebolapalooza idiocy of the news media in their recent "reporting." This was inspired by an on-air rant over at (of all places) Fox News, by Shepard Smith, which is well worth watching. The only other mainstream media rant I saw which tried to counter the chorus of Ebola fearmongering came from David Ignatius at the Washington Post, who also quoted Smith's rant.


As an unrelated side note, the Post also ran a most excellent rant this week which dared to ask the question "Is Sex Only For Rich People?" which I highly recommend for its original thinking (a quality in short supply in the news media, at times). Here is the heart of the argument, made by Catherine Rampell:


Our country apparently doesn't want low-income Americans to have free access to birth control, either by compelling all insurance plans to offer it or by adequately funding public reproductive health programs. In many schools -- predominantly located in low-income, high-teen-pregnancy areas -- we don't even teach kids how contraception works. We also don't want them to have easy access to abortions when they inevitably get pregnant because they're not using birth control, with states such as Texas and Mississippi trying to shutter their few remaining abortion clinics.


Then we don't help them very much after they birth those unplanned kids, instead publicly chastising irresponsible single mothers for having babies they can't afford and offering little assistance in the form of child care, education or cash. Dumping unwanted children onto the child welfare system isn't exactly celebrated, either.


This breath of fresh thinking aside, however (again, read the article, it's well worth your time), I have to offer up this week in place of our regular talking points a rant on all the various "travel ban" proposals floating around out there. Now, I am fully aware that none of these are in the least way serious -- they are all designed purely for political gain. If any of these were actually serious, then Congress would right now be reconvening, instead of spending the next week or so out on the campaign trail. The quick question to ask anyone proposing such a ban would be (for any enterprising journalist to ask a politician making the proposal): "So are you demanding that John Boehner and Harry Reid reconvene Congress tomorrow to enact such a critical defense of this country?" Here's a great guide to whether such a proposal is serious or just political blathering: if the answer to that question is "No," then they're just playing politics.


Anyway, here's my rant against travel bans, because I just know this is going to be a big subject on this weekend's political chatfests on Sunday morning.


 


The stupidity of all the "travel ban" proposals


The political panic over the Ebola virus is reaching epidemic proportions, it seems. The entire exercise, to date, seems nothing more than a textbook example of what political scientists often call "do-somethingism" -- if only someone would just do something, we could all be safe and life would be wonderful.


The problem, of course, is that just doing something for the sake of doing something -- or, even worse, just to score political points over your rivals -- is rarely effective, often counterproductive, and usually nothing more than a gigantic waste of time and money. Which is exactly how all the proposals yet offered for a "travel ban" should be classified, as nothing more than sheer "do-somethingism" that will, in reality, do nothing (or make things worse).


The only way to be absolutely certain that Ebola cannot escape the West African countries and spread to the rest of the world would be to institute a complete quarantine of the affected countries. This is not what anyone is currently calling for, though, and even if they were it would be virtually impossible to police in any meaningful way. Locking down every West African country affected would cost an insane amount of money (assuming it could even be achieved), and would essentially cut the people within those countries off from the rest of the planet, leaving them to their fate. It would be a real-life version of Albert Camus's novel The Plague, in fact -- only on a much larger scale (since Camus only wrote about one North African city being forcibly quarantined). The cold-heartedness of this reality is likely why nobody's proposed it. Yet.


This might be a conceivable proposition if the affected area were on a planet of its own, and we were talking about interstellar space flights instead of airplanes. That's really about the only way it could work. After all, the only way to get off a planet is by spaceship -- you can't swim a river or drive across a border to get to a new planet, after all. In the movie Aliens (the second in the Alien franchise), Ellen Ripley argues for an absolute travel ban on the planet she narrowly escaped from, because that would be a permanent solution to the problem of the nasty aliens -- an effective and complete quarantine. When she is turned down, she poignantly asks: "Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?"


This is ironic, since those now advocating for a West African travel ban are now showing their own ignorance of the feasibility of what they are suggesting. The most prominent example this week was a Republican House member from Florida, who insisted that direct flights from these countries currently fly to America, stating "I believe there are some flights." When a reporter informed him: "There are no flights. There are no direct flights that come to the United States from West Africa," this mental giant responded: "It will not solve the problem. It is a step in the right direction." This has got to be the most convincing poster-child example of do-somethingism yet displayed in this debate, but it will certainly not be the last one. I should mention that some Democrats (especially those in tight election races right now) are jumping on this bandwagon too, in political fear.


Oh, sure, I don't doubt that Congress would have a whole lot of fun (and make stacks and stacks of political hay) by voting for a travel ban, but the hard cold fact is that it will not work. Period. It just won't. There are multiple reasons why this is true, in fact. Let's just run down the biggest and most prominent reasons why this do-somethingism is doomed to abject failure in achieving its supposed goals.


The first glaring problem a travel ban would have is that, so far, every single proposal I've seen would only cover "non-citizens." Because of course everyone knows that Americans are protected by a magical force field and do not contract diseases no matter where they tread. The first Ebola patients on American soil were, in fact, Americans. They were health workers who had been fighting the disease and caught it themselves. Their magic American force field didn't work, in other words. All the proposed travel bans would still have let them in. So what good would such a travel ban have done in their cases? A true travel ban would cover everyone, no matter what passport they carried. This is not considered an option by the politicians, though. And it's worth noting that nobody got infected from these people after they arrived, because they were properly cared for.


The second enormous problem is that air travel is not the only way to get around. There are many other ways to get from West Africa to the rest of the world, including by land and by sea. How are we going to address travel that doesn't go through an airport, or only goes through an airport in a country not affected by the ban? None of the proposals I've heard even begins to address this rather large loophole.


The third gigantic problem is deciding where to ban travel from. As mentioned, there are zero commercial flights between the affected countries and American airports. None. Nada. What this means is that everyone travelling from these countries to America has to go through another airport somewhere. So which countries are we going to actually ban travel from? Those who haven't instituted their own travel bans? Well, currently, aside from some African countries, that covers pretty much the entire globe. Maybe we could just ban those making travel connections in Europe -- the most common place to lay over while traveling from West Africa to America.


Which European airports are we going to ban travel from? All of them? Those with connections between America and West Africa? What about countries that have already taken in their own Ebola patients, like Spain? Should we ban all travel from Spain? No American politician has seriously proposed any such thing. European/American trade would collapse if we indeed were stupid enough to try such a wide ban on travel.


This brings up a related question that -- again -- no American politician has even touched with a ten-foot pole. Since the only place in America where Ebola was actually transmitted from one patient to another is Texas, why not institute a travel ban on Texas? Shut its borders, and don't allow any Texans to travel to the other 49 states -- after all, we have to "do something," right? Since Texas is the only hotspot for Ebola, let's just quarantine it (using the same logic the travel banners are now deploying). Surely Rick Perry, who is in favor of travel bans in general, would support such a thing, right? Once again, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for an American politician to suggest such a thing.


Since people are traveling from West Africa to other places before they fly to America, why not just check their passports? Anyone with any sort of stamp from any affected country would then be banned from travelling here. Wouldn't that work? Well, no. No, it wouldn't. President Obama tried to explain why the other night:


If we institute a travel ban instead of the protocols that we've put in place now, history shows that there is a likelihood of increased avoidance. People do not readily disclose their information. They may engage in something called broken travel -- essentially breaking up their trip so they can hide the fact that they have been to one of these countries where there is a disease in place. As a result, we may end up getting less information about who has the disease, they are less likely to get treated properly, screened properly, quarantined properly and as a consequence we could end up having more cases rather than less.


The more harsh barricades to entry people face, the bigger and bigger their incentive to lie, in other words. We are now relying on voluntary statements from travelers, who know that if they answer "yes" to any of the questions, they will not be denied entry to the country and will not be forcibly quarantined. If either of those were true, people would lie. Not just people, either, but whole countries might then join in the efforts to evade the restrictions (West African countries might just stop stamping entry passports, to give just one easy example).


Slamming America's borders shut to the rest of the world would be the only way to be sure no more Ebola-infected people enter the country. It would have to be an absolute ban. Fortress America. Texas would have to be sealed off from the other 49 states, as well. International travel to and from the country would have to entirely cease. This is not going to happen, for a multitude of reasons (the accompanying apocalyptic collapse of the world's economy would likely be reason number one in this list).


I admit, it feels good to "do something," for both politicians and the public alike. "Why won't somebody do something?" is always an agonizing question to pose. But easy answers to a disease transmission do not actually exist. This is not a partisan statement, either. Former Health and Human Services Secretary (and Republican) Mike Leavitt, who was in charge of bird flu preparedness under George W. Bush recently said that they had intensely studied a travel ban but concluded it would not work. And that was for a disease that was much more virulent than Ebola, because it was an airborne virus -- which Ebola is not.


The protocols and voluntary screening in place are working, however. This is the news that is getting lost in the "do something" panic attack. Health officials have screened 36,000 people leaving West Africa over the past two months. Of all these people, 77 had flu-like symptoms. Out of the possible sick people, guess how many had Ebola? None. Zero. At American airports, screening has just begun. Once again, no cases have been identified yet. When such cases are detected, proper precautions can be taken -- because the screening is working. If a travel ban were in place, how many of these people would lie about where they've been? How many would then just disappear into the populace without being monitored?


The proposals for a travel ban which are currently being discussed would indeed "do something." They would make the problem worse. We would all be in the midst of patting ourselves on the back for "doing something" while people began sneaking under the "do something" radar.


It would be nice if Congress could pass a law requiring virus molecules to all carry their own passports. In this Utopian dream world, we could screen for these passports at the border, by waving a magic wand. "Oh, sorry, while your human passport checks out, some molecules in your blood appear to have travelled through West Africa, so I'm very sorry but you can't come in." This is a nice fantasy for someone exhibiting the mental skills of an 11-year-old, but it is not and will never become reality.


Passing any of the proposed travel bans -- most especially the ones that don't even address American citizens' travel -- would make all concerned feel better. Call it "feel-goodism" or "do-somethingism" or just plain old "magical thinking," it would indeed raise spirits. But it would do absolutely nothing to stop Ebola from entering America, and in fact it might even make it easier. Sometimes the answer isn't to do something, but rather to continue doing what has so far been working well.


Ebola will be beaten (if humanity is ultimately successful in fighting this outbreak) in West Africa itself. To beat it, health workers from the rest of the world have to have access. A travel ban would interrupt this access, and allow the virus to spread further in the hot zone. By making the problem worse in West Africa, the problem for the rest of the world also gets worse. A travel ban would be completely counterproductive, and would in fact help the Ebola virus itself.


Take a deep breath, everyone, and try not to give in to the fearmongers. Or, to put it another way: "Don't panic."


 


Chris Weigant blogs at:


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Psst! Fox News, Listen Up: There Are No Terrorists Crossing the Border

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-10-17 20:55

Slide courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security

With elections looming and ISIS on the move, there's been a lot of somewhat predictable talk of terrorists slipping into the country through our "sieve" of a southern border.

While President Obama looks the other way -- don't forget that part. Or... beckons to them in welcome, according to some. I'm waiting for the Ebola outbreak to become Obama's fault somehow. I mean, he's from Kenya, right?

Just kidding. But some shock jock out there will make that connection sooner or later. Someone probably already has.

Anyway, living so close to that sieve here in Tucson, I've been justifiably concerned. Are squads of terrorists hopping and cutting those border fences hell bent on beheading us in our beds one by one?

To find out, I contacted the office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. A few hours later, I received a response from Carlos Lazo of the Office of Public Affairs.

He referred me to a presentation entitled "Border Security in the 21st Century" which was delivered on October 9 by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.

And in said presentation, Johnson stated the following:

In September, the public heard a claim that four individuals with suspected ties to terrorism in the Middle East had attempted to cross our southern border; far fewer know that, in fact, these four individuals were arrested, their supposed link to terrorism was thoroughly investigated and checked, and in the end amounted to a claim by the individuals themselves that they were members of the Kurdish Worker's Party -- an organization that is actually fighting against ISIL and defended Kurdish territory in Iraq. Nevertheless, these individuals have been arrested for unlawful entry, they are detained, and they will be deported.

Of course, this one case will not lay current claims to rest. It was, after all, recounted by a government official. And nobody trusts government officials anymore. Just ask all those government officials telling you not to trust government officials in their campaign ads designed to help them become... government officials.

But that story and some actual statistics from Johnson's presentation do seem to debunk many of the assertions being made by several political candidates.

That is, in fact, why the presentation was created.

"Not enough has been said publicly by our government -- in a clear, concise way -- about our border security efforts on behalf of the American people," Johnson asserts in the introduction.

"And, in the absence of facts, the American public is susceptible to claims that we have an open, "porous" border, through which unaccompanied minors and members of terrorist organizations such as ISIL may pass."

Here are some of those facts, copied -- verbatim -- from the press release featuring the entire slideshow.

• "In late June and July, millions of Americans saw the images of the processing centers filled with kids; far fewer Americans know that by early June the spike in illegal migration by unaccompanied kids turned the corner, and it's now in fact at its lowest number since January 2013."

• "Today's Border Patrol is itself one of the largest agencies of our government, with a budget of $3.5 billion, a total of 23,000 personnel, 20,833 border patrol agents and the largest-ever level of technology and equipment."

• "In the Fiscal Year 2000, we had 8,619 Border Patrol agents dedicated to the southwest border; in 2014 that number is 18,127 and growing."

• "If you include primary, secondary, tertiary and vehicle fence, today there is about 700 miles of total fence across the southwest border, compared to just 77 miles of fence in the year 2000 -- in 14 years we have built almost 10 times more fence across the southwest border."

• "In Fiscal Year 2000 we had just 29 miles of lighting along the southwest border; today we have 70 miles of lighting strategically placed where we have determined it is needed."

• "Fourteen years ago we had few, if any, underground sensors to detect illegal migration at the southwest border; today we have 11,863 of these devices."

• "In Fiscal Year 2000 the Border Patrol had 56 aircraft; today that number is 107. In Fiscal Year 2000 the Border Patrol had no unmanned aerial vehicles; today we have eight of these for surveillance of illegal activity over the southwest border."

• "In Fiscal Year 2000 the Border Patrol had just two boats to patrol the entire southwest border over waterways like the Rio Grande; today we have 84."

• "In Fiscal Year 2000 the Border Patrol had one mobile surveillance system; today we have 40. In Fiscal Year 2000 we had little if any mobile video surveillance capability; today we have 178 of these. In Fiscal Year 2000 we had 140 remote video surveillance systems; today we have 273 of these."

• "Today the Border Patrol has the largest deployment of people, vehicles, aircraft, boats and equipment along the southwest border in its 90-year history."

The result, according to Johnson, is that "illegal migration into this country has dropped...from over 1.6 million in 2000 to around 400,000 a year in recent years," the lowest it has been since the 1970s.


Slide courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security

Will that make folks like Senator Lindsey "Oh, my Lord, they're coming to kill us all" Graham rest any easier? Of course not. And many of his fellow Republicans will continue to insist that there are ISIS operatives scuttling through the Arizona desert even as they speak.

But for those of you looking for a few facts to fling into your next dinner table debate -- you're welcome. Do with them what you will.

I, myself, have decided my current home security system -- two really yappy Pomeranians who could hear an ant break wind apparently -- will do for now.

Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Owner Wins Climate Leadership Award

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-10-17 19:22
WASHINGTON -– The company that wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline was recognized this week for leadership on climate change -– to the shock of environmental activists.

Alberta-based TransCanada, which has been seeking permission to build the 1,660-mile pipeline from Canada's oil sands to refineries in Texas, was included as a corporate climate leader on the Carbon Disclosure Project's Climate Performance Leadership Index 2014. The Carbon Disclosure Project, or CDP, is a United Kingdom-based nonprofit that works with companies to tally and report their greenhouse gas emissions. TransCanada was one of five energy sector companies included on the "A List" in this year's report.

The report notes that the company has set targets for emission reductions, and includes a quote from TransCanada: "Our business strategy is informed by the risks and opportunities from climate change regulations, physical climate parameters and other climate-related developments such as uncertainty in social drivers ... we anticipate that most of our facilities will be subject to future regulations to manage industrial [greenhouse gas] emissions."

In a blog post, TransCanada said the listing "presents those companies identified as demonstrating a superior approach to climate change mitigation."

"Recognition at the highest level by the CDP -- the international NGO that drives sustainable economies -- is very significant to us," TransCanada president and CEO Russ Girling said in a statement Thursday. "For us, our CDP ranking helps us continue to challenge ourselves in terms of protecting the environment at every level of our organization."

But environmental groups, which have raised concerns about the pipeline's potential contributions to climate change, deplored the listing for a company whose primary business is building energy infrastructure for fossil fuels. "The only thing TransCanada is a leader in is exploiting the world’s dirtiest oil," Friends of the Earth's Luísa Abbott Galvão said in a statement Friday sent by The Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and the state-based group Bold Nebraska. TransCanada has made a "relentless push to foul our land, water, and climate," said Bold Nebraska's Jane Kleeb.

Final approval for the pipeline would have to come from the State Department, because it crosses an international border. A decision is on hold while a legal dispute over the proposed route through Nebraska is resolved.

The State Department released an environmental analysis earlier this year that found that the greenhouse gas emissions directly tied to the pipeline would be negligible, as the oil would still likely be developed without Keystone XL.

But others have questioned that logic, arguing that emissions linked to the pipeline would be significant and that its construction would facilitate greater development of the tar sands. Environmental groups also have pointed to the fact that other proposed pipelines have generated opposition in Canada, potentially limiting options for exporting the crude.

Dallas Health Care Worker Who Handled Specimen From Ebola Victim Quarantined On Cruise Ship

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-10-17 02:32
WASHINGTON (AP) — Obama administration officials say a Dallas health care worker who handled a lab specimen from an Ebola-infected man from Liberia who died of the disease is on a Caribbean cruise ship where she has self-quarantined and is being monitored for any signs of infection.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki (SAH'-kee) says in a statement Friday that the woman has shown no signs of the disease and has been asymptomatic for 19 days. The government is working to return the woman and her husband to the U.S. before the ship completes its cruise. The White House says the State Department is working with an unidentified country to secure their transportation home.

Psaki says that when the woman left the U.S. on the cruise ship health officials were requiring only self-monitoring.

Mark Begich vs. Dan Sullivan Nonpartisan Candidate Guide For Alaska Senate Race 2014

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-10-17 02:19


Are you looking for a nonpartisan voter guide to the Mark Begich vs. Dan Sullivan Senate race? One that will give you an unbiased, no-spin comparison of candidate positions on key issues? That's what our Campus Election Engagement Project guide will give you! We are a national nonpartisan initiative working with college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders to increase student participation in America's elections. For the 2014 elections we have created and distributed voter guides to campuses in over 20 states so they can provide their communities with accurate information for informed voting. Because these guides have been so well received and are useful for all voting citizens who want to be better informed, we are also posting them here.

We developed our guides by analyzing information from trusted resources such as www.votesmart.org, www.ontheissues.org, www.ballotpedia.com, www.politifact.com, www.factcheck.org, www.vote411.org and from candidate websites, public debates and interviews, and statements in major media outlets. We also showed them to groups like campus Young Republicans and Young Democrats at the schools we work with to verify their fairness and lack of bias.

So here are the issue-by-issue stands for Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan, with additional links at the bottom for each candidate if you'd like to dig deeper. (You can also find Alaska's Governor's guide here.)

----------
Budget: Did you support raising the Federal debt ceiling with no strings attached?
Begich: Yes
Sullivan: No

Budget: Do you support a Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment?
Begich: Yes, with limits on tax breaks for millionaires (See Begich supports balanced budget amendment.)
Sullivan: Unknown

Campaign Finance: Do you support the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which allowed unlimited independent political expenditures by corporations and unions?
Begich: No
Sullivan: Yes

Economy: Do you support raising the minimum wage?
Begich: Yes
Sullivan: Opposed Alaska state minimum wage initiative during primary, but now supports it. Opposes a Federal increase. (See Sullivan supports state minimum wage boost he once opposed)

Economy: Do you support extending unemployment benefits beyond 26 weeks?
Begich: Yes
Sullivan: No

Economy: Do you support the Dodd-Frank Act, which established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and sought to increase regulation of Wall Street corporations and other financial institutions?
Begich: Yes
Sullivan: No

Economy: Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
Begich: Mixed, but generally yes.
Sullivan: Unknown

Education: Do you support refinancing of student loans at lower rates, paid for by increasing taxes on income over a million dollars?
Begich: Yes
Sullivan: Unknown

Environment: Do you believe that human activity is a major factor contributing to climate change?
Begich: Yes
Sullivan: Yes in 2008, but recently stated there is no scientific consensus on the extent of human influence. (See articles from U.S. Department of State Archives, The Hill, and Alaska Dispatch News)

Environment: Do you support government action to limit the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere?
Begich: Yes but has pushed back on actions affecting Alaska. Opposes carbon tax. (See Alaska elected leaders differ on cause of and response to climate change)
Sullivan: No

Environment: Do you support government mandates and/or subsidies for renewable energy?
Begich: Yes
Sullivan: Has previously supported investment in renewables, but current position not clear.

Environment: Do you support Measure 4, limiting Bristol Bay mining if determined to be harmful to wild salmon?
Begich: Yes
Sullivan: Position ambiguous--has challenged environmental regulation of the mine but says has never directly supported the mine. (See Begich vs. Sullivan debate on fisheries issue)

Gay Marriage: Do you support gay marriage?
Begich: Yes
Sullivan: No

Gun Control: Do you support enacting more restrictive gun control legislation?
Begich: No
Sullivan: No

Healthcare: Do you support repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare?
Begich: No
Sullivan: Yes

Healthcare: Did you support shutting down the federal government in order to defund Obamacare in 2013?
Begich: No
Sullivan: Unknown. As State Attorney General, sued the federal government to dismantle Obamacare as unconstitutional

Immigration: Do you support the D.R.E.A.M. Act, which would allow children brought into the country illegally to achieve legal status if they've graduated from high school, have a clean legal record, and attend college or serve in the military?
Begich: Yes
Sullivan: Unknown

Immigration: Do you support the comprehensive immigration plan passed by the Senate in 2013, which includes a pathway to citizenship and increased funding for border security?
Begich: Yes
Sullivan: Supports increased border security. Refused to sign pledge to oppose all efforts for "amnesty."

Iraq: Should the US recommit troops to Iraq to combat the rise in insurgency?
Begich: No
Sullivan: Would consider the possibility of troop commitments in certain situations

Marijuana: Do you support efforts to decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana?
Begich: Has concerns but will defend Measure 2 if passed
Sullivan: No. Opposes Measure 2

Social Issues: Should abortion be highly restricted?
Begich: No
Sullivan: Yes

Social Issues: Should employers be able to withhold contraceptive coverage from employees if they disagree with it morally?
Begich: No
Sullivan: Yes

Social Issues: Should Planned Parenthood receive public funds for non-abortion health services?
Begich: Yes
Sullivan: No

Social Security: Do you support partial privatization of Social Security?
Begich: No
Sullivan: No / Contested (See Alaska Dispatch News article for more details on his views.)

Taxes: Have you signed the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge to oppose any tax increases to raise revenue? (The answer to this question is taken from the database of signatories of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, created by Americans for Tax Reform. Signers to the pledge promise to oppose "any and all tax increases" meant to generate additional revenue.)
Begich: No
Sullivan: Yes

Taxes: Would you increase taxes on corporations and/or high-income individuals to pay for public services?
Begich: Yes
Sullivan: No per Pledge signature above

Learn more about the candidates:
Mark Begich: Mark Begich Vote Smart pages and Mark Begich On the Issues pages
Sullivan: Dan Sullivan Vote Smart pages and Dan Sullivan On the Issues pages

----------
Note: Other senate candidates include Mark Fish (Libertarian) and Ted Gianoutsos (Independent). Due to limited space, we can't include their positions, but invite you to check out their websites.

Sean Parnell vs. Bill Walker Nonpartisan Candidate Guide For Alaska Governor's Race 2014

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-10-17 01:53


Are you looking for a nonpartisan voter guide to the Sean Parnell vs. Bill Walker Governor's race? One that will give you an unbiased, no-spin comparison of candidate positions on key issues? That's what our Campus Election Engagement Project guide will give you! We are a national nonpartisan initiative working with college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders to increase student participation in America's elections. For the 2014 elections we have created and distributed voter guides to campuses in more than 20 states so they can provide their communities with accurate information for informed voting. Because these guides have been so well received and are useful for all voting citizens who want to be better informed, we are also posting them here.

We developed our guides by analyzing information from trusted resources such as www.votesmart.org, www.ontheissues.org, www.ballotpedia.com, www.politifact.com, www.factcheck.org, www.vote411.org and from candidate websites, public debates and interviews, and statements in major media outlets. We also showed them to groups like campus Young Republicans and Young Democrats at the schools we work with to verify their fairness and lack of bias.

So here are the issue-by-issue stands for Sean Parnell and Bill Walker, with additional links at the bottom for each candidate if you'd like to dig deeper. (You can also find Alaska's Senate guide here.)

----------
Education: Do you support increasing funding for K-12 education?
Parnell: Includes it as priority but record of past cuts makes position contested. (Promotes K-12 funding, but has record of past cuts and his 2014 education funding focuses most heavily on charter and residential schools.)
Walker: Conditional yes (Increased school funding is a top priority, but won't make funding guarantees until Alaska's deficit is reduced.)

Education: Do you support providing vouchers to parents to send their children to private schools with public money?
Parnell: Yes
Walker: No

Education: Do you support increasing funding for higher education?
Parnell: Has cut due to declining oil revenues (See University Experiencing Budget Deficit )
Walker: Conditional yes as with K-12

Environment: Do you believe that human activity is a major factor contributing to climate change?
Parnell: Believes both human and natural elements contribute but dismantled state climate change Sub Cabinet work group that Gov. Palin had established. (For more information on Climate Change Sub-Cabinet, click here.)
Walker: Yes--calls Alaska "ground zero of climate change"

Environment: Do you support taking government action to limit the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere?
Parnell: No
Walker: Position unclear

Environment: Do you support government mandates and/or subsidies for renewable energy?
Parnell: Priority on development of oil and gas but has supported setting state renewable energy goals
Walker: All of the above approach. Supports local renewable energy projects while expanding gas and oil extraction and a pipeline for natural gas. (Only as part of comprehensive strategy supporting multiple types of energy development. No special focus on renewable energy.)

Environment: Do you support Measure 4, limiting Bristol Bay mining if determined to be harmful to wild salmon?
Parnell: No
Walker: Yes

Gay Marriage: Do you support gay marriage?
Parnell: No
Walker: No but would uphold amended Alaska constitution to allow gay marriage if that occurs. (See Parnell rivals weigh in on same-sex-marriage)

Gun Control: Do you support enacting more restrictive gun control legislation?
Parnell: No
Walker: No

Healthcare: Do you support the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare?
Parnell: No--considered federal overreach
Walker: No--said wasn't the answer to a broken system

Healthcare: Should your state accept federal funds so Medicaid will cover people earning up to 138% of the federal poverty line?
Parnell: No
Walker: Yes--because Alaska taxes pay for this. (Walker would accept the Medicaid expansion, with the caveat of continued federal funding, because Alaskans' federal tax dollars pay for it. For more information, click here)

Marijuana: Do you support efforts to decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana?
Parnell: No
Walker: No

Minimum Wage: Do you support raising the minimum wage?
Parnell: Yes
Walker: Yes

Social Issues: Should abortion be highly restricted?
Parnell: Yes
Walker: Ambiguous--wouldn't promote restrictions but wouldn't automatically veto. (Will neither introduce nor promote legislation that increases current restrictions, but would consider signing more restrictive legislation if such a bill is passed during his tenure. See No automatic vetoes of abortion restrictions for more detail.)

Social Issues: Should employers be able to withhold contraceptive coverage from employees if they disagree with it morally?
Parnell: Yes
Walker: Unknown

Taxes: Have you signed the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge to oppose any tax increases to raise revenue? (The answer to this question is taken from the database of signatories of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, created by Americans for Tax Reform. Signers to the pledge promise to oppose "any and all tax increases" meant to generate additional revenue.)
Parnell: Yes
Walker: No

Taxes: Did you support lowering of oil company royalties to state in Ballot Measure 1 earlier this year?
Parnell: Yes
Walker: No

For additional issue-specific candidate information, visit the following pages:

Sean Parnell Alaska Dispatch election 2014 questions
Sean Parnell VoteSmart pages
Sean Parnell On the Issues pages


Bill Walker Alaska Dispatch 2014 elections questions
Bill Walker VoteSmart pages
Bill Walker campaign website issues pages

-----------------
Other gubernatorial candidates include Carolyn Clift (Libertarian) and J.R Myers (Constitution Party). Due to limited space, we can't include their positions, but invite you to check out their websites.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen Makes Less Than 113 Other Staffers At The Fed

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-10-17 01:00

WASHINGTON, Oct 17 (Reuters) - The top 113 earners among staff at the Federal Reserve's Washington headquarters make an average of $246,506 per year, excluding bonuses and other benefits - more than Fed Chair Janet Yellen and nearly double the normal top government rate.

Yellen, whose salary is set by Congress, earns $201,700 a year.

The details on Fed pay were provided to Reuters in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for data on all employees of the U.S. central bank's board whose salaries outstrip $130,810, which is the top of the government's pay scale in most areas.

However, the central bank only provided salaries for staff who make at least $225,000 a year, with some exceptions. It is the first time the list has been made public.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have sponsored a bill that would require the Fed to divulge that information publicly.

Supporters of the Fed say the world's leading central bank needs top talent, and note that its expenses are not covered by taxpayers, but by the income it earns on securities it holds. Critics, however, think the Fed has too much discretion.

"It certainly bolsters the case for more oversight," said Maggie Seidel, a spokeswoman for New Jersey Republican Scott Garrett, a co-sponsor of the bill.

As of July 31, the Fed's inspector general led the list with an annual salary of $312,000, followed by the central bank's four division directors, its general counsel and its chief operating officer, who each earn a base of $265,000.

Despite the relatively high pay of senior managers at the Fed board, the average salary of all its staffers was $121,279, excluding benefits, a figure that lags behind other financial regulators.

At the Securities and Exchange Commission, the average salary was $157,946 in 2013, while at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation it was about $130,000. The average at the Commodities Futures Trading Commission was $146,323.

Former Senator Ted Kaufman said it was important for the central bank to hire and retain talented staff who could fetch more in the private sector. Managing directors at large investment banks, for example, usually earn a salary around $250,000 and pull in bonuses that in good times can be double or triple that amount.

Nevertheless, the Delaware Democrat said tracking the Fed's costs was a legitimate concern.

"In the private sector, every business has incentives to keep costs down. In government, you have to overcome the issue that there is no natural need to keep costs down," Kaufman said. (Reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Lisa Shumaker)

America May Never Have A Draft Again. But We're Still Punishing Low-income Men For Not Registering

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-10-17 00:41
The last time Danieldevel Davis got out of prison it was 2012 and he was 38.

“I ain’t going back into no man’s prison again,” he vowed.

Senate Forecast 2014

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-10-17 00:12
HuffPost Pollster begins by collecting every publicly released poll on the 2014 Senate races. We then use a statistical model to estimate the trend in support for each candidate based on all the survey data, adjusting for sample size and pollsters’ “house effects.” Interactive charts of those support trends are available here and on the HuffPost Pollster home page.

Women, Vote Yourselves a Raise

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-10-17 00:10
America goes to the polls in less than 3 weeks, there's a lot at stake for the majority of voters - namely women. Unfortunately women also make up another majority -- those working for our pathetic $7.25 an hour minimum wage. We've all heard the numbers on the gender pay gap - women make about 77 cents on the dollar compared to men for full time year round work. And one of the biggest factors in the pay gap is the low minimum wage.

That's because adult women make up 75% of minimum wage workers. Even so, in an election year when candidates know female voters can make them or break them, too many are saying these women don't deserve a raise.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, now a Republican candidate for the Senate, recently said a raise would be a "job killer" - a theory frequently harped on by his fellow conservatives. They say employers will lay off some workers to pay for the increase. But it just ain't so. In the 13 states that raised their minimums this year, employment has actually gone up.

Naysayers also like to claim that companies will move to lower wage states. Wrong again. The New York Times studied businesses on either side of the Washington/Idaho border when Washington's minimum wage was nearly $3 higher than Idaho's. And guess what? Firms in Washington did not move across the state line. They were going strong, maybe because higher paid workers had more money to spend.

Workers who get tips -- so-called "sub-minimum" wage workers -- are the worst off of all. And no surprise, they're mostly women too. According to the Economic Policy Institute, two-thirds of tipped workers are female, and roughly 70 percent of the food servers and bartenders are women.

Yet employers like Darden Restaurants ,the largest full-service restaurant company in the world and owner of Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Yard House, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, and Eddie V's refuses to raise wages for these workers above the mandated $2.13 an hour. Recent research by U.C. Davis, says it would cost just 10 cents per $5 in sales over a five year phase-in to raise wages for all Darden employees to $15 per hour. Dishes like Olive Garden's popular Tortellini al Forno would increase by a exactly one thin dime if all of the costs were passed on to the customer. But why should customers pick up the tab? Why not take it out of CEO mega-salaries and bonuses, or share the cost with the investor class in the form of slightly lower cash dividends (Darden made $286.2 million in profits last year).

One more thing - the same candidates that don't want a higher minimum wage also want to cut safety net programs like Medicaid and food stamps. Supports made necessary because workers can't earn enough to live on, even with two jobs paying $7.25 an hour.

Public polls show that close to 70 percent of Americans favor raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. But Republicans in the Senate refused to vote on it earlier this year, and you can bet it won't come up at all if they take the majority away from the Democrats. So any action is likely to be at the state level -- meaning pay attention to those local candidates. They're the ones most likely to hold the purse strings for the next two years.

Listen to the 2 minute radio commentary here:

Donald Trump Questions Barack Obama's Mental Health, Calls Him 'Psycho'

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-10-17 00:04
Donald Trump is at it again, taking to Twitter to question President Barack Obama's mental health over his handling of the Ebola crisis.

Early Thursday, Trump speculated that there's "something seriously wrong with President Obama's mental health" and called him a "psycho" for refusing to cut off flights to countries with active Ebola cases.

I am starting to think that there is something seriously wrong with President Obama's mental health. Why won't he stop the flights. Psycho!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2014


Later in the day, Trump reiterated that he thinks there's something wrong with the president.

"He's either incompetent, he's very stubborn or there's something wrong," Trump said on "The Steve Malzberg Show."

The Donald said his experience as a dealmaker means he understands people, even those on the other side of an issue. But in this case, he can't understand the other side.

"If you take a look at the whole thing about stopping the flights, I don't understand that," Trump said. "How could you not not stop the flights?"

When pressed by Malzberg, he again said something's wrong with Obama.

"There's something wrong and nobody knows what it is but there's something wrong," Trump said. "There's so many bad decisions. Can anybody be that incompetent? There's something wrong, there's something going on."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has argued that sealing the borders could actually undermine the effort to track the sick and stop the spread of the disease.

“Right now we know who’s coming in,” CDC chief Thomas Frieden told Congress on Thursday. “If we try to eliminate travel, the possibility that some will travel over land, will come from other places and we don’t know that they’re coming in, will mean that we won’t be able to do multiple things.”

Borders can be porous, especially in this part of the world,” he said, according to Politico.

But Trump isn't buying it, and brought it up again on Twitter again later in the day:

Looks like Obama will not stop the very potentially dangerous flights to and from West Africa. What the hell is wrong with this guy?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2014




(h/t Mediaite)

Former New Mexico Student Says She Was Shunned For Anti-Gay View

Huffingon Post Politics - Thu, 2014-10-16 23:43
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- A former University of New Mexico student can proceed with a free speech lawsuit against the school alleging she was ostracized by her professors for making anti-gay remarks in paper, a federal judge has ruled.

Chief U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo denied the university's request to have Monica Pompeo's lawsuit dismissed, the Albuquerque Journal reported in Thursday's editions.

Pompeo claims the university acted improperly when she was kicked out of a class in 2012 for describing lesbianism as perverse in a critique of a lesbian romance film.

Pompeo was enrolled in a course called "Images of (Wo)men: From Icons to Iconoclasts" and critiqued a 1985 lesbian drama, "Desert Hearts." After grading the critiques, Pompeo's professor told her to pick up her paper and "ponder the responses" the professor gave her.

Those written responses included a comment that the critique was "inflammatory and offensive," the newspaper reported. The professor also blasted Pompeo's view that a lesbian character in the film had a "perverse attraction to the same sex" and a "barren womb."

The lawsuit alleges the teacher violated her own syllabus, which called for "open minds" to examine "representations of a plethora of genders and sexualities." Instead, Pompeo says, she was accused of resorting to "hate speech," and the professor refused to grade her paper.

Pompeo alleges the professor also made it clear that it would be in Pompeo's best interests not to return to the class.

The professor, Caroline Hinkley, did not respond to requests for an interview.

The lawsuit also alleges Pompeo later met with a supervisor at the university and was told the use of "barren" was inappropriate and offensive.

Chief U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo's Sept. 29 order found Pompeo's claims were enough to make a plausible case that the university violated her First Amendment rights.

Armijo's ruling questioned whether a "university can have a legitimate pedagogical interest in inviting students to engage in `incendiary' and provocative speech on a topic and then punishing a student because he or she did just that."

"Simply because Plaintiff expressed views about homosexuality that some people may deem offensive does not derive her views of First Amendment protection," the judge wrote.

Pompeo's attorney told the Journal she looks forward to litigating the case in court.

"This has been pending for a long time," attorney Louren Oliveros said. "A university should be a place where freedom of expression is invited and where robust debate is welcomed. We're very much looking forward to having this case go to trial."

Republican Admits Why Republicans Hate Obamacare

Huffingon Post Politics - Thu, 2014-10-16 22:45
Conservatives have made a series of specific predictions about the effects of Obamacare — overall costs would rise, insurers would flee the exchanges, premiums would go up, the ranks of the uninsured would not even fall. All these predictions have failed.

Bob Beauprez vs. John Hickenlooper Nonpartisan Candidate Guide For Colorado Governor's Race 2014

Huffingon Post Politics - Thu, 2014-10-16 22:15


Are you looking for a nonpartisan voter guide to the Bob Beauprez vs. John Hickenlooper Governor's race? One that will give you an unbiased, no-spin comparison of candidate positions on key issues? That's what our Campus Election Engagement Project guide will give you! We are a national nonpartisan initiative working with college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders to increase student participation in America's elections. For the 2014 elections we have created and distributed voter guides to campuses in more than 20 states so they can provide their communities with accurate information for informed voting. Because these guides have been so well received and are useful for all voting citizens who want to be better informed, we are also posting them here.

We developed our guides by analyzing information from trusted resources such as www.votesmart.org, www.ontheissues.org, www.ballotpedia.com, www.politifact.com, www.factcheck.org, www.vote411.org and from candidate websites, public debates and interviews, and statements in major media outlets. We also showed them to groups like campus Young Republicans and Young Democrats at the schools we work with to verify their fairness and lack of bias.

So here are the issue-by-issue stands for Bob Beauprez and John Hickenlooper, with additional links at the bottom for each candidate if you'd like to dig deeper. (You can also find Colorado's Senate and House of Representative guides here.)

----------
Education: Do you support increasing funding for K-12 education?
Beauprez: Unknown
Hickenlooper: Yes

Education: Do you support the effort to standardize and increase school standards under the Common Core initiative?
Beauprez: No
Hickenlooper: Yes

Education: Do you support providing vouchers to parents to send their children to private schools with public money?
Beauprez: Yes
Hickenlooper: No

Education: Do you support increasing funding for higher education?
Beauprez: No
Hickenlooper: Yes

Elections: Do you support requiring registered voters to present a photo-ID in order to vote?
Beauprez: Yes
Hickenlooper: No

Elections: Do you support increasing restrictions on campaign donations?
Beauprez: No
Hickenlooper: Yes

Environment: Do you believe that human activity is a major factor contributing to climate change?
Beauprez: No
Hickenlooper: Yes

Environment: Do you support taking government action to limit the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere?
Beauprez: No
Hickenlooper: Yes

Environment: Do you support government mandates and/or subsidies for renewable energy?
Beauprez: No
Hickenlooper: Yes

Gay Marriage: Do you support gay marriage?
Beauprez: No
Hickenlooper: Yes

Gun Control: Do you support enacting more restrictive gun control legislation?
Beauprez: No
Hickenlooper: Yes

Healthcare: Do you support the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare?
Beauprez: No
Hickenlooper: Yes

Healthcare: Should your state accept federal funds so Medicaid will cover people earning up to 138% of the federal poverty line?
Beauprez: No
Hickenlooper: Yes

Immigration: Do you support colleges and universities awarding in-state tuition rates to state residents who are not citizens?
Beauprez: No
Hickenlooper: Yes

Marijuana: Do you support efforts to decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana?
Beauprez: Did not support Colorado's marijuana legislation but would focus on implementing it responsibly
Hickenlooper: Did not support Colorado's marijuana legalization but has implemented law

Minimum Wage: Do you support raising the minimum wage?
Beauprez: No
Hickenlooper: Not currently seeking hike in CO minimum wage

Social Issues: Should abortion be highly restricted?
Beauprez: Yes
Hickenlooper: No

Taxes: Have you signed the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge to oppose any tax increases to raise revenue? (The answer to this question is taken from the database of signatories of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, created by Americans for Tax Reform. Signers to the pledge promise to oppose "any and all tax increases" meant to generate additional revenue.)
Beauprez: No
Hickenlooper: No

Taxes: Would you increase taxes on corporations and/or high-income individuals to pay for public services?
Beauprez: No (voted for 2003 tax bill to reduce them)
Hickenlooper: Yes

Learn more about the candidates:
Beauprez: Bob Beauprez Vote Smart pages and Bob Beauprez On the Issues pages
Hickenlooper: John Hickenlooper Vote Smart pages and John Hickenlooper On the Issues pages

-----------------
Other gubernatorial candidates include Matt Hess (Libertarian), Harry Hempy (Green Party), Mike Dunafon (Independent), Paul Fiorino (Independent), and Jim Rundberg (Independent). Due to limited space, we can't include their positions, but invite you to check out their websites.

Tom Foley Refuses To Say What He'd Do About Connecticut's Gun Laws

Huffingon Post Politics - Thu, 2014-10-16 21:49
WASHINGTON -- Tom Foley, the Republican candidate for governor in Connecticut, has spent much of his campaign criticizing the state's sweeping gun control package passed last year after the Sandy Hook elementary school mass shooting. But when pressed Thursday on what changes he would make to the state's gun laws, Foley refused to say.

The subject of gun control resurfaced during Connecticut's fifth gubernatorial debate, with Foley facing incumbent Gov. Dan Malloy (D) and conservative Joe Visconti, who is petitioning to run as an independent. Visconti, in his first debate of the election, spoke in favor of repealing most of the gun control package signed into law by Malloy in April.

The stricter gun laws, drafted on a bipartisan basis by Connecticut's legislature, require mandatory background checks for private gun sales, ban magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds, and expand the list of guns covered by the state's assault weapons ban. It also created a $15 million fund to help schools improve security.

When Foley was asked for his take on the gun reforms, he criticized the law, signed by Malloy, but offered no alternative.

"I’m a problem-solver, and when the tragedy in Newtown happened, obviously a government response was appropriate," Foley said. "But I think you need to focus on the source of the problem. ... My complaint is the gun bill Gov. Malloy passed hasn’t made Connecticut any safer."

Foley said the root of the Newtown massacre was a mental health issue, not a gun issue.

Sandy Hook gunman Adam Lanza, who had severe mental health issues, used 30-round magazines to kill 20 children and six educators in less than five minutes before taking his own life in December 2012. The firearms Lanza used were registered to his mother, Nancy Lanza, who had purchased them legally. Lanza shot his mother to death in her home before the school rampage.

Malloy accused Foley of disguising his position, pointing out that in the past Foley has said he would repeal the gun bill.

"That’s whispering to people, that’s whispering to the legislature, 'Come back and repeal the bill and I’ll sign it,'" Malloy said.

Malloy cited statistics showing a drop in violent crime across Connecticut, which state leaders said resulted from police task forces, community policing programs and investments in reducing gun violence. A memo released by Malloy's office earlier this year said annual murders had dropped below 100 for the first time in a decade.

In response, Foley was asked once more to identify aspects of the gun law that he either would remove or change. Again, he ducked the question.

"We have a Democratic legislature and the legislature passes the laws, not the governor," Foley said. "It seems very unlikely to me that this legislature is going to revise that bill in any significant way, and I think the opportunity to balance the interests that were at stake here was when this bill came before the legislature. And the governor was instrumental in helping design and pass this bill and he took away a lot of law-abiding citizens' rights, and they’re upset. … He just went willy-nilly in the direction he wanted to go. When I’m governor, I’m going to balance everyone’s rights."

A final attempt by the moderator to get specifics from Foley was rebuffed.

"Listen, the legislature passes the law. I don’t think the legislature is going to pick that up as an issue," Foley said.

Foley has sought to avoid the subject of gun control before, but showed a more aggressive tone in the fourth televised debate last week. During that exchange, Foley referenced his older sister's mental health problems to highlight his own personal experience with insufficient resources for mental health. He accused Malloy of "grandstanding" on the issue and said it was "insulting" for the governor to hold guns, not mental health, responsible for the shooting in Newtown.

HuffPost's Pollster average, which combines all publicly available polling, shows Malloy and Foley locked in a dead heat.



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Militarily, Germany Should Stay Out of the War on ISIS

Huffingon Post Politics - Thu, 2014-10-16 21:43
While I'm writing this text, the fate of the Kurdish city of Kobani is unclear. But the situation of Kobani, stuck between the Turkish army and the murderous mercenaries of the Islamic State, throws a spotlight on the political and moral constitution of the West, which would itself like to be thought of as a "community of shared values."

Turkey is playing its own game. An intervention with its troops only comes into question, as Ankara is communicating to Washington, if it is allowed to wage war against Assad. In the meantime it is blocking the supply routes for the Kurds, yet still letting potential ISIS mercenaries pass freely. The supply routes of ISIS also still seem to be intact.

The fate of the Kurds is in no way indifferent to Turkey; it seems to welcome that the PKK, and the allied PYD, are at least considerably weakened due to fighting with ISIS. Yet the remainder of NATO states -- namely the U.S. and Europe -- are seemingly tolerating these grave human rights abuses.

I state a grave failure of the West -- measured by its own values. In any case, NATO is no longer a "community of shared values," but rather an intervention alliance. But there is yet still another failure. The U.N. Security Council, according to the U.N. Charter, is especially and exclusively responsible for reacting to the endangerment of peace in a reasonable way.

The Security Council is composed of five privileged veto powers, against whom no resolution can be achieved. This implies a special responsibility of these powers. That the Security Council has not really taken action is an expression of great irresponsibility.

Of course we know of the political reasons due to which consensus is hindered. Amongst these reasons are the stance towards the Assad regime and also the tensions between the U.S. and Russia. But is it really too much to ask of the U.S., China, Russia, France and Great Britain to agree on what can and must be done against ISIS? And if they act, also militarily, they have to act collectively, so that their different interests equalize each other.

Obama's strange coalition of the willing isn't much good. It operates against international law and remains ineffective. As the White House has said, the war against ISIS will take a few years. That would mean that we would have to endure two more years of massacre, which would be helped along indirectly by Turkey, the remainder of NATO states rather watching.

Militarily speaking, Germany should stay out of it completely. This country isn't privileged, it is not a world power and it also has a different history.

This blog post originally appeared on The Huffington Post Germany and was translated from German.


Hospital Releases Video Of Ebola Patient Nina Pham

Huffingon Post Politics - Thu, 2014-10-16 21:33
Nina Pham, the first Texas nurse infected with Ebola, can be seen speaking in a video released by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas before her transfer to an isolation unit at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

In the video, Pham jokes with her treating physician Dr. Gary Weinstein, "Come to Maryland, everyone."

While the specifics of her condition are not known, Pham appears alert and upbeat. She cries, telling her attending treatment team "I love you guys."

Weinstein says, "Thanks for being a part of the volunteer team to take care of our first patient," referring to Pham taking part in the treatment of a Liberian man infected with Ebola who later died.

Pham was admitted later on Thursday to the NIH Clinical Center's Special Clinical Studies Unit to be treated by infectious disease and critical care experts. She is the first known Ebola case to be handled in Maryland.

Amber Vinson, the other nurse infected with Ebola after treating the Liberian patient, was sent on Wednesday night to Atlanta's Emory University Hospital, which has handled other Ebola cases from U.S. patients returning from West Africa.


Read more from HuffPost on Ebola:
The Uncensored Reality Of Covering Ebola As A Journalist
All The Times The World Tried To Warn Us
Why We Won't Have An Ebola Vaccine For Years
The Most Destructive Ebola Myths, Debunked
What Actually Happens When A Person Is Infected