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Would Warren Really Run?

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-10-26 20:42
What is Elizabeth Warren up to?

Elizabeth Warren's offhand remark in an interview with People magazine strongly suggested that the Massachusetts senator has revised her previous firm declarations of non-candidacy for president and is now deliberately leaving the door open a crack. Asked whether she was considering a run in 2016, Warren said disarmingly, "I don't think so," but added, "If there's any lesson I've learned in the last five years, it's don't be so sure about what lies ahead. There are amazing doors that could open."

That sure opened one door. Is Warren really thinking about challenging frontrunner Hillary Clinton? I'd be surprised if Warren has made any decision on that question, but her remark immediately set off two kinds of political waves.

First, it produced great excitement among the Democratic Party's long-suffering progressive base. And second, it reminded many commentators of Clinton's several vulnerabilities.

Clinton, after all, was the certain Democratic nominee once before, in 2008. But she couldn't quite close the sale. Despite her extensive experience, Clinton was overtaken by a novice senator, an African American, no less.

Among her other liabilities, Clinton is well to the right of the party base, both on issues of financial reform and on foreign policy. She comes attached to Bill Clinton, who is a superb politician but also something of a loose cannon. The financial/political conglomerate that links the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative and other family enterprises to six-figure speaking gigs could present a high profile target.

Her one trump, despite the fact that Hillary often seems so yesterday and so centrist is that she represents a dazzling breakthrough in American politics -- she would be the first woman nominee of a major party and the first female president. On the other hand, if Warren ran, she would immediately deny Clinton that trump. And unlike Clinton, Warren is a woman who made it in politics on her own, and not as half of a couple whose husband was president first.

Warren has dazzled progressive Democrats as the loyal opposition to Barack Obama in her role as chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the financial bailout known as the TARP. She also came from behind to win a senate race in Massachusetts raising the most money -- $43 bilion -- ever raised for a senate campaign, most of it in small donations. She assembled an army of 250,000 grass roots volunteers.

The conventional assumption is that it's Hillary's turn, but in a sense this is more Elizabeth Warren's moment than it is Hillary Clinton's. The economy is still stagnant, and the health of the financial industry has been put ahead of the wellbeing of regular Americans.

Warren has a capacity to energize passion among grassroots voters, probably to a greater degree than Clinton does. One of the reasons for the rise of the Tea Parties was the sense that the Obama administration was too close to Wall Street. Nobody could say that of Elizabeth Warren.

That said, it is still a long shot that Warren would challenge Clinton. I have no inside information on this, but I suspect that Warren softened her Shermanesque declaration of non-candidate because Clinton in fact may not run. If Clinton decided not to make the race, for health or other reasons, Warren would find grassroots pressure well nigh irresistible. She is the de facto leader of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and for good reason. She has now signaled that there are in fact circumstances under which she would run.

Warren may also want to keep Hillary guessing in order to put salutary pressure on her to run as a more resolute progressive. And sure enough, in her recent appearance on behalf of Martha Coakley, the Democrats' lackluster candidate for governor of Massachusetts, Clinton gave a populist speech right out of Warren's playbook, declaring, "I am so pleased to be here with your senior senator, the passionate champion for working people and middle-class families, Elizabeth Warren!"

In the latest issue of the American Prospect, I wrote a feature piece comparing Warren's strengths with Clinton's latent weaknesses. I couldn't quite believe that Warren would run against Clinton, so I framed the piece as "What Clinton Can Learn from Warren."

Clinton may yet learn a few campaign tricks from Warren. But she will be 69 years old in 2016, and it would take a miracle for her to be reborn as a Warren-style progressive. It's still a long shot that Warren will make the race, but stranger things have happened in American politics.

Robert Kuttner's new book is Debtors' Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility. He is co-editor of The American Prospect and a senior Fellow at Demos, and teaches at Brandeis University's Heller School.

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Nonpartisan Candidate Guide Mike Enzi vs. Charlie Hardy for Wyoming Senate

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-10-26 19:38
Are you looking for a nonpartisan voter guide to the Mike Enzi vs. Charlie Hardy Wyoming 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 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 Votesmart.org, Ontheissues.org, Ballotpedia.com, Politifact.com, Factcheck.org, 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 Mike Enzi and Charlie Hardy, with additional links at the bottom for each candidate if you'd like to dig deeper. Also see League of Women Voters summary.


Budget: Did you support raising the Federal debt ceiling with no strings attached?
Enzi: No
Hardy: Unknown

Budget: Do you support a Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment?
Enzi: Yes
Hardy: Unknown

Budget: In order to reduce the deficit do you support reducing defense spending?
Enzi: Has supported some cuts in the past. Offered preliminary support for so-called Gang of Six plan to cut $1.4 trillion from discretionary appropriations, including military spending. Unlikely to support additional defense cuts.
Hardy: Yes. Believes defense spending is out of control


Campaign Finance: Do you support the DISCLOSE Act, which would require key funders of political ads to put their names on those ads?
Enzi: No
Hardy: Yes. Campaign finance reform is prime issue

Campaign Finance: Do you support the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which allowed unlimited independent political expenditures by corporations and unions?
Enzi: Yes. Strongly opposes limits on special interest donations and voted against constitutional amendment to overrule Citizens United.
Hardy: No. Does not accept money from corporations or PACS; took "Pledge to Amend" in which candidates for public office sign on for a Constitutional amendment stating that money is not speech and artificial entities like corporations don't have the same constitutional rights that human beings do. Challenged Enzi to do the same. See Challenger Rages Against the Money Machine


Economy: Do you support raising the minimum wage?
Enzi: No--Believes it would harm small business
Hardy: Yes--Raise to help people, reduce need for public assistance, and boost economy.

Economy: Do you support extending unemployment benefits beyond 26 weeks?
Enzi: Dependent upon being able to pay for it without increasing national debt.
Hardy: Unknown

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?
Enzi: No-- Announced intention to sponsor bill repealing Act.
Hardy: Yes

Economy: Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
Enzi: No
Hardy: Yes

Education: Do you support refinancing of student loans at lower rates, paid for by increasing taxes on income over a million dollars?
Enzi: No
Hardy: Yes-- Would go further to support near-zero student loan rates and loan forgiveness for people who've served in the military, Peace Corps, or Americorps.


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

Environment: Do you support government action to limit the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere?
Enzi: No. Voted to bar EPA from regulating.
Hardy: Yes

Environment: Do you support government mandates and/or subsidies for renewable energy?
Enzi: No. Strongly opposes prioritizing green energy. Supports continues oil subsidies and opposes decreasing them.
Hardy: Supports development of renewable energy. Implied support for subsidies of renewables, but no clear position found

Gay Marriage: Do you support gay marriage?
Enzi: No
Hardy: Yes

Gun Control: Do you support enacting more restrictive gun control legislation?
Enzi: No--Wants to repeal federal restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
Hardy: No--But wants to prevent felons from having access and opposes arming teachers.

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

Healthcare: Did you support shutting down the federal government in order to defund Obamacare in 2013?
Enzi: Yes
Hardy: No

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?
Enzi: No
Hardy: Yes

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?
Enzi: No
Hardy: Yes

Marijuana : Do you support efforts to decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana?
Enzi: No
Hardy: Yes

Iraq: Should the US recommit troops to Iraq to combat the rise in insurgency?
Enzi: Believes Congress should vote on response to ISIS
Hardy: Unknown

Social Issues: Should abortion be highly restricted?
Enzi: Yes--Exceptions only for rape, incest and to save life of mother
Hardy: No

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

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

Social Security: Do you support partial privatization of Social Security?
Enzi: Yes
Hardy: No

Taxes: Have you signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to oppose "any and all" tax increases to raise revenue?
Enzi: Yes
Hardy: No

Taxes: Would you increase taxes on corporations and/or high-income individuals to pay for public services?
Enzi: No--Has pledged to oppose any tax increase that would raise revenue
Hardy: Unknown

Learn more about the candidates:
Enzi: Mike Enzi Vote Smart pages and Mike Enzi On the Issues pages

Hardy:Charlie Hardy Vote Smart pages and Hardy On the Issues pages

Quarantined Nurse Kaci Hickox Plans To File Federal Lawsuit Challenging Confinement

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-10-26 17:21
Oct 26 (Reuters) - A nurse held in quarantine for Ebola monitoring in New Jersey plans to file a federal lawsuit challenging her confinement as a violation of her civil rights, her lawyer told Reuters on Sunday.

Norman Siegel, a well-known civil rights lawyer, said that Kaci Hickox's confinement after she returned from West Africa raised "serious constitutional and civil liberties issues," given that she remains asymptomatic and has not tested positive for Ebola.

"We're not going to dispute that the government has, under certain circumstances, the right to issue a quarantine," he said. "The policy is overly broad when applied to her." (Reporting by Joseph Ax; Writing by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Jon Husted vs. Nina Turner Nonpartisan Candidate Guide For Ohio Secretary of State Race 2014

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 23:48


Are you looking for a nonpartisan voter guide to the Jon Husted vs. Nina Turner Secretary of State 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 Jon Husted and Nina Turner. (You can also find Ohio's Governor guide here.)

----------
The Secretary of State is elected to a four-year term. Duties and responsibilities encompass three divisions: elections, business services, and records management. We've highlighted issues around voting rules that are at the center of the differences between the candidates.

Online voter registration: Do you support online voter registration?
Husted: Yes
Turner: Yes

Same-day Registration and Voting: Do you support the elimination of the Golden Week when Ohioans could register to vote and cast in-person ballots the same day?
Background: Senate Bill 238 shortens the early voting period and eliminates the Golden Week that has allowed Ohioans to register and vote the same day. To learn more about Republican and Democratic arguments for and against the bill, see Eliminating Golden Week voting and Kasich signs voting bills that end Golden Week and limit distribution of absentee ballots.
Husted: Yes
Turner: No

Early and Weekend Voting: Should boards of elections in large counties with major urban cities be able to extend evening and weekend hours of operation to accommodate early voting?
Background: U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus recently issued a permanent injunction that prevents the Ohio secretary of state from restricting or eliminating voting for the three days prior to all future elections. Nonetheless, the secretary of state can set uniform voting hours in all 88 counties for all four weeks of early voting, including the final three days. And still at issue is the elimination of evening voting hours. By contrast, in 2013, Turner introduced legislation dubbed the Voter Protection Act that would have, among other things, restored the Golden Week, expanded early voting, mandated evening voting hours, added more than one voting location in the nine largest counties, and counted provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct by legally registered voters with no intent to vote in the incorrect place. To learn more about the candidates' opposing views on early and weekend voting and to see the new early voting hours for 2014, go to Three days of voting to be restored, New early-voting hours set after federal court ruling and State Sen. Nina Turner unveils bill to boost registration, ease voting rules.
Husted: No
Turner: Yes

Absentee Ballots: Do you agree with the law that prohibits county boards of elections from mailing unsolicited absentee ballots to voters and paying for returned postage?
Background: Senate Bill 205 prohibits anyone other than the Secretary of State from distributing unsolicited absentee ballot applications and requires the Secretary of State to distribute them statewide during even year elections if the state legislature appropriates funds specifically for that purpose. (Husted will send them to Ohio voters this year.) The bill also prohibits election officials from assisting voters in completing the application unless the voter is blind, disabled, illiterate, or unable to come to the polling location. For additional information on legislative actions effecting early voting and absentee ballot applications, see Kasich signs voting bills article.
Husted: Yes
Turner: No

Minor Party Ballot Access: Do you support SB 193 that institutes new rules and greater signature requirements for minor party candidates?
Background: Senate Bill 193, passed in 2013, imposes significant barriers for third parties wanting to gain ballot access. On January 15, 2014, the Sixth District U. S. Court of Appeals denied the state's request to expedite its approval of a lower court's injunction against SB 193. For a better understanding of the controversy surrounding the bill and subsequent injunction, see Ohio legislature passes new ballot-access rules and Minor parties aided in Ohio ballot access by court ruling.
Husted: Yes
Turner: No

Provisional Ballots: Do you support the imposition of tighter restrictions on the casting and counting of provisional ballots, where provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct or incorrect polling locations are not counted?
Background: A provisional ballot affords a person the opportunity to vote on Election Day if a problem arises at the polls, such as if his or her name is not on the roster because they recently moved. Senate Bill 216, approved in February 2014, sets forth what it takes to cast a provisional ballot in Ohio and when it will be counted.For example, those without proper identification or a social security number cannot vote or cast a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot cast in either the wrong precinct or in the incorrect polling location will not be counted. A person has seven days to prove identity and eligibility and have his or her vote counted. For details on the bill and its party-line votes, see Ohio lawmakers pass new provisional ballot rules and Bill would change rules for casting provisional ballots.
Husted: Yes
Turner: No

Redistricting: Do you support reforming the process by which legislative and congressional district lines are drawn?
Background: In 2012, a Redistricting Reform Task Force was charged with facilitating the drawing of state legislative and congressional district lines. In 2013, Turner asked the Ohio Constitutional and Modernization Commission (OCMC) to reform the redistricting process. Husted has been an advocate for similar reforms, suggesting the creation of a seven-member bipartisan board to draw state legislative and congressional lines. A supermajority, which includes one person from the minority party, would be needed to pass the plan. See, for example, his 2013 and 2014 calls for action.
Husted: Yes
Turner: Yes

Campaign Finance Reform: Do you support mandatory reporting of out-of-state campaign expenditures in Ohio elections?
Background: Turner supports required reporting of out-of-state independent election spending and proposed legislation to close a loophole in Ohio campaign finance law. Husted supports voluntary disclosure, refusing to enforce the current rule, created by former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, because he considers it unenforceable. While serving in the Ohio Senate, Husted co-sponsored a bill with Turner that would have closed the loophole.
Husted: Supported it when in the legislature. Considers current administrative rule unenforceable.
Turner: Yes
-----------------

Sunday Roundup

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 23:47
This week, Ebola arrived in New York City -- America's most crowded and most media-saturated metropolis. So, as word spread on Thursday, so did the hysteria. But thankfully, Ebola (or "Ebowla," as some christened it in honor of the infected doctor's sporting foray the night before his symptoms appeared) remains much harder to spread than rumor and misinformation. As threats go, Americans have a greater chance of dying from a bee sting than catching Ebola. Meanwhile, Canadians are dealing with this week's deadly shooting in Ottawa. The media response there stood in stark contrast to ours. Any changes, The Globe and Mail wrote, should not be "as a panicky reaction to a very small number of men" who "are not an existential threat." We could learn much from our northern neighbors. As we heed NY Mayor de Blasio's warning to stay calm, we should also remember Montaigne, who said, "There were many terrible things in my life, but most of them never happened."

U.S. Journalist Ashoka Mukpo Says His Body Was 'At War' With Ebola

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 22:27
JENNIFER McDERMOTT, Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Ashoka Mukpo knew he really was in trouble when he saw the people treating him in full protective suits and hoods.

The American video journalist is home now after recovering from Ebola he contracted while working in the virus-ravaged West African country of Liberia. In an interview with The Associated Press, he described the fear he felt when medical workers appeared at his bedside in the heavy duty gear needed to prevent the spread of the deadly infection.

"The only thing you can see is their eyes. And they're dripping with chlorine," Mukpo said. "You just realize what a bad situation you're in when your caregivers have to come in with such an incredible amount of protection."

Mukpo contracted the virus after working for a month as a freelance cameraman for NBC and other media outlets. He recounted the harrowing experiences he endured first with his diagnosis, then his treatment and at last his recovery on Saturday at his Rhode Island home two days after the latest Ebola case in the United States: the hospitalization of a New York City emergency room physician who had worked in Guinea.

The 33-year-old Mukpo recalled taking his temperature, seeing it read 101.3, and feeling "pure fear." Being diagnosed with Ebola, Mukpo said, forced him to confront the possibility of his own death, and made him understand the terror and isolation so many West Africans are going through.

Mukpo said he felt as if his body was "at war" with the virus: he was in pain and weak, he had a fever that went as high as 104 degrees, it was hard to walk and eat, and he lost 15 pounds in a week. Mukpo isn't sure how he contracted Ebola because he said he was careful while filming.

Mukpo was flown to the Nebraska Medical Center Oct. 6, where he was isolated in a biocontainment unit, given constant fluids and an experimental Ebola drug.

He is only one of a handful of people who have been treated for Ebola in the United States: One patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, died after traveling from Liberia to Dallas while other health care workers who have been infected have, like Mukpo, recovered.

Mukpo said it was difficult not to hold the hand of a loved one when he was so sick, but he added he's not sure how much direct contact he would've wanted.

"I needed to go into my body and find a place of strength, and find a place of calm," he said.

Mukpo said he had no other choice but to find that strength, because there is little room for fear.

"I'm going to make it, I'm not going to give in to fear," Mukpo said he told himself. "I'm not going to give in to depression, embarrassment, I'm just going to live."

Receiving a blood transfusion from Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, who was treated in Atlanta, was a turning point. The next day, Mukpo's eyesight was clearer, his headache and fever had lessened, and his body felt more under his control.

Mukpo was released from the hospital Wednesday and flew back to Rhode Island.

Mukpo said he felt compelled to go to Liberia because he had previously spent about two years there as a human rights advocate.

"I saw these awful things happening to this country that I had a connection to," he said. "There was still some confusion about what the international response could be. I felt like 'OK, if I shoot film, I write, I'm going to help be part of the solution to this.' And I felt like that was worth the risk."

As for returning to Liberia, Mukpo said he would consider it in the future, under the right circumstances. For now, he said he's enjoying being somewhere safe and spending time with his family.

He says he's getting stronger every day and he feels grateful, blessed and lucky to be home.

Still, he said, he's acutely aware of the fact that most people battling the disease don't have a team of doctors.

"I would aspire that people, even in our moment of fear about Ebola in America, would consistently redirect their attention to what's going on in West Africa," he said. "These are good people who are getting sick, these are real people who are getting sick, and they deserve the benefit of everything we can do to help them solve this crisis."

Many West Africans who survive Ebola lose a family member, or their entire family, to the disease, Mukpo said, and his heart goes out to them.

"This thing takes a piece from you," he said. "It can be very small, or it can be very big."

Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador To United Nations, Travels To Ebola-Stricken West Africa

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 22:09
By Michelle Nichols

WASHINGTON, Oct 25 (Reuters) - The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, is traveling to Guinea on Sunday and will also visit Liberia and Sierra Leone, making the trip despite calls by some U.S. lawmakers for a travel ban on the three West African countries worst-affected by Ebola.

Power, a member of President Barack Obama's cabinet, left Washington on Saturday. Obama has resisted Republican calls for a travel ban on advice from health officials who say such a measure would be counter-productive, in part because it would impede people going to help fight the epidemic.

"For me the benefits of having first hand knowledge of what is happening in these countries gravely outweighs the almost nonexistent risk of actually traveling to these countries provided I take the proper precautions," Power told reporters before setting off.

Nearly 5,000 people have died in the worst recorded outbreak of Ebola, the World Health Organization said on Saturday, out of more than 10,000 known cases. The epidemic is centered on Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, but there have been a scattering of cases in some other countries, including the United States. The virus is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, and is not transmitted by people who are not showing symptoms.

Power said her role put her in a good position to press for more international action to combat the virus.

"In visiting the three affected countries and getting a detailed grasp of the gaps I hope to use my knowledge of those gaps to shake the trees and really push other countries to do more," she said.

Power will also visit the headquarters of the United Nations Ebola response mission (UNMEER) in Ghana, which is coordinating global efforts to stop Ebola.

In the United States, concern about the spread of the disease flared anew after the fourth case of the virus was diagnosed: a doctor who was infected after working with Ebola patients in Guinea and who is being treated in New York.

The states of New York, New Jersey and Illinois have announced that people arriving after contact with Ebola patients in West Africa would be quarantined for the 21 day incubation period of the disease. The Obama administration is also considering quarantining health workers returning to the United States.

But critics say such measures could discourage health workers from traveling to help get the epidemic under control.

The World Health Organization said so far 450 health care workers have been infected to date, 244 of whom have died. Those infected include one in Spain, the New York doctor, and two nurses in Dallas, who contracted Ebola after treating a Liberian man who fell ill while visiting Texas. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Frances Kerry)

New York Ebola Patient Craig Spencer Enters Next Phase Of Illness

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 20:25
The New York City doctor who tested positive for Ebola has entered the next phase of his illness, according to the New York City Health And Hospitals Corporation.

A press release from NYC HHC indicated that Dr. Craig Spencer has begun to experience gastrointestinal symptoms. He is said to be awake and communicating.

Spencer had been treating patients for the disease with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea and was admitted to Bellevue Hospital Center after developing a fever this Thursday.

HHC also reported that Spencer's fiancée Morgan Dixon, who has been in isolation at the same hospital as a precaution, will return to her home under quarantine.

Spencer is New York's first Ebola patient, and as such has generated significant attention.

At a press conference on Thursday night, Mayor Bill de Blasio stated, "There is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed." In an attempt to quell potential fears of New York residents, de Blasio explained, "New Yorkers who have not been exposed to an infected person's bodily fluids are not at all at risk."

The full press release from NYC HHC can be found below:

For Immediate Release
October 25, 2014; 6:00 pm
Contact: HHCpress@nychhc.org

Update on Ebola Patient

Joint Statement of Health and Hospitals Corporation
and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene


October 25, 2014 ---The patient at Bellevue Hospital Center is entering the next phase of his illness, as anticipated with the appearance of gastrointestinal symptoms.

The patient is awake and communicating. The Bellevue clinical team in charge of care for the patient is in constant communication with CDC and with other leading medical centers such as Emory University Hospital and the Nebraska Medical Center. A large CDC team has been actively involved in advising the Bellevue staff and we are very appreciative of the additional guidance.

In addition to the required supportive therapy, we initiated antiviral therapy within hours of admission. We also administered plasma therapy yesterday. These therapies have been used at Emory and Nebraska.

The patient's fiancée will return to her home this evening under quarantine.

Tankman, the GOP and Voting Rights

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 19:06
One of the most evocative images of the 20th century was the image of a single man standing in front of a column of tanks as part of the pro-democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The picture resonates because, as Thomas Jefferson wrote two centuries earlier, we are all endowed with certain fundamental unalienable rights - Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

In the United States, a half-century ago the Supreme Court explained that

No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined.

Over the course of our history, we have endeavored to expand the right to vote to include all sexes, all races and all adults.

In March 1965, a voting rights march to Montgomery, Alabama was met with brutal force by Alabama state troopers on Selma's Edmund Pettus bridge and the nation reacted in horror. President Johnson spoke before Congress to introduce the Voting Rights Act, declaring

There is no constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution is plain.

There is no moral issue. It is wrong--deadly wrong--to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.

There is no issue of States rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.

The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 and reauthorized multiple times, most recently in 2004 without a single Senator voicing opposition.

Then two events occurred that shook the nation from its forward trajectory. First was the election of Barack Obama in 2008 that, rather than heralding the arrival of a post-racial America, became a call to arms for the dark knights of bigotry.

Then in 2012, an activist conservative majority of the Supreme Court gutted the Act's enforcement mechanism that enabled the Justice Department to block discriminatory voting laws. Texas, which had been a repeat offender of the Act, reacted gleefully by immediately introducing and swiftly passing one of the most restrictive voter laws in the country that would prevent as many as 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5% of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification. Republicans who once spoke in favor of voting rights have gone silent as twelve other states have enacted similarly strict voter ID laws.

After a nine-day trial, a Texas federal judge blocked implementation of the Texas law finding it was enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose and would yield a prohibited discriminatory result. Richard Posner, a widely respected conservative judge, recently concluded a similar Wisconsin law had only one motivation and that was "to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burden."

I often hear objections to these laws dismissed with statements such as "what's so hard about getting an ID" or "both sides are playing politics, the Democrats want to make voting easier because it will help them." Keep in mind that we are talking about a fundamental right. There is a big distinction between making the exercise of that right easier and attempting to deny it altogether.

Such an argument also ignores the long history of many of these states to block minority voters and the clear intent of the restrictions. There is ample evidence of Republicans stating on record that these restrictions are intended to discourage voting by "lazy blacks" as one North Carolina Republican stated.

Texas and other states have chosen these restrictions knowing it will prevent people from voting without any real evidence of voter fraud. Even worse, Texas allowed IDs for groups favored by Republicans, military and concealed weapons holders, but would not allow student IDs. Voters can obtain an "election identification certificate" from the Texas Department of Public Safety but more than 400,000 eligible voters would face round-trip travel times of three hours or more and incur fees obtaining birth certificates or other supporting documentation.

The attack is not limited to voter ID requirements but also includes cutting back early voting (especially on Sundays) since that has yielded higher minority votes and cutting back polling places in Democratic areas. I was in Florida during the vote in 2012 and saw voters wait in line until nearly midnight to vote.

When we see the photo of the "Tiananmen Tankman," we all respond because we understand that what he sought - freedom - is a fundamental human right. How many think, "well wait a minute, how is he going to exercise that right?"

That is the state of the Republican Party today. Whether it is voting rights or allowing the largely African-American citizens of the District of Columbia representation in Congress - they are against it. When it comes to such fundamental unalienable rights, the party that freaks out if you don't have a flag lapel pin on your jacket, apparently has the Confederate battle flag in its heart. While these tactics may yield victory, they undermine confidence in and threaten the legitimacy of our entire political system.

The Horror Before The Beheadings - NYTimes.com

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 18:18
The hostages were taken out of their cell one by one.

In a private room, their captors asked each of them three intimate questions, a standard technique used to obtain proof that a prisoner is still alive in a kidnapping negotiation.

GMOs Expose Dangerous Science Disconnect in Agriculture

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 17:40
A contentious issue in the upcoming Colorado and Oregon GMO labeling referendums is the perceived safety of consuming genetically modified foods.

Question a representative of the National Corn Growers Association or the American Farm Bureau Federation about the safety of eating GMOs and you'll rightly be scolded about the scientific evidence that consuming those crops is as safe as any other.

These representatives of the American farm lobby wield enormous political clout with conservative and rural lawmakers. They also influence farmers' decisions. But, ironically, they are AWOL when it comes to publicly communicating the consensus on the science behind the single greatest threat to agriculture, which is human-induced climate change.

What's the result of this willful ignorance?

A U.S Department of Agriculture survey released this year revealed that a scant 7.8 percent of corn belt farmers believe that human activity causes climate change. Compare that to the fact that 93 percent of 2014's planted corn was genetically modified.

A huge gulf exists in farmer attitudes toward science. Growers clearly accept the scientific evidence that modified food is safe while rejecting the scientific evidence that climate change is real and caused by human activity. And this chasm is driven by simple economics. One finding makes farmers money, but the other doesn't -- yet.

Climate change is swiftly re-writing the rules for all of U.S agriculture. The havoc wrought by a warming atmosphere will have profound effects on our food and farm system. We need to enlist the entire U.S. agriculture sector if we hope to reduce emissions to tolerable levels and thrive in a changing climate.

That means the farm lobby and food activists need to both embrace science outside their ideological biases.

I'm no scientist, nor an active farmer. I am a prodigious consumer of both organic and genetically altered food and beverages, and I know it's not the GMO corn used to distill my extra glass of bourbon that will determine my long-term health. I've been a staunch defender of much of the sustainable food movement's central tenets, such as organics and local food. Our goal should be to use fewer chemicals and do as little harm to the environment as possible when growing what we eat.

I'm also lucky enough to own part of my family's fourth-generation South Dakota farm. GMO corn and soybeans dominate this remote part of the state because they make money. There is no local market. The ultimate goal of most farms -- including ours -- is to pass a viable operation on to the next generation.

Despite their prevalence, there is ample reason to question the deployment of GMO technology. They play a major role in nurturing a biodiversity-crushing monoculture, and one farmer's planting actions contaminating another's should be an issue of paramount importance to agriculture.

Yet in order to survive abrupt changes to our climate, American agriculture must transform itself into a fine-tuned, diverse and resilient web of organic and conventional farms that produce at a rate that continues to astonish the world.

It can be done. Companies are looking at ways to give farmers financial incentives to use less climate-damaging synthetic fertilizer. Some farmers are enrolling in carbon markets. And the recent federal farm bill provides a roadmap on how to reform policy and subsidies so they benefit farmers who do the right thing by water, habitat, soil and climate.

What's needed now, more than ever, is for good-food advocates and conventional agriculture to unify over the overarching issue of climate change. That won't happen as long we keep having this silly food fight over GMO safety.

Ebola and the Fear That Makes Us Stupid

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 17:05


Who says that ordinary Americans can't make a difference? Last week, a few hundred frightened, insular people in Oklahoma City got millions of Africans scratching their heads on just how stupid Americans can be.

The story may have been tucked into page 10 of your newspaper or newsfeed but I saw it all over the front pages in Nairobi: As the opportunity of a lifetime, 24 kids from an orphanage choir in Kenya had come to the U.S, to give a series of concerts to raise money to help poor children in rural Kenya. Supported by faith-based charities in Oklahoma City, the kids had scheduled their first concert there and local volunteers helped publicize it. But the wrong kind of word began to spread. First there were phone calls, then emails and Tweets. Then a blast from a local radio shock-jock. "Turn the kids back; they could be carrying Ebola. We got to protect our own." Hundreds joined in panicked attacks on these kids that jeopardized the concert and their entire tour. The kids and their sponsors were devastated.

Never mind that these kids came from Kenya, which is as far from the Ebola epicenter in West Africa as Boston is from Los Angeles. Never mind that, if the people of Oklahoma City wanted to worry about Ebola, they had only to look south a few hundred miles to Dallas, where a real Ebola threat, however minor, actually existed.

America is, of course, a modern country whose citizens have easy access to the latest and most accurate information. That didn't stop blind fear and willful ignorance from driving these outrageous actions in Oklahoma City -- and others; reportedly a lady in Ohio showed up at an airport in a homemade Hazmat suit. Ancient peoples quaked in fear during thunderstorms and invented gods and offered sacrifice in response. But at least they had an excuse: They didn't have the Internet to tell them what caused the heavens to boom.

What should worry us is not one-time embarrassments like the one in Oklahoma City. What should worry us is why events like these continue to happen in a country as literate as ours and what that says about our ability to effectively make decisions for our communities and the nation.

I'm a leader of the Giraffe Heroes Project, a nonprofit that moves people to stick their necks out for the common good. As one friend put it, we teach courage -- through media programs that tell the inspiring stories of heroes, and through speeches, books, blogs, trainings and curricula for schools (www.giraffe.org). I'm in Kenya to launch a Giraffe affiliate here.

Over more than 30 years in this job, I've watched people confront fear successfully and I've watched them be driven by fear to do the most irrational things -- or to do nothing at all when action is the only reasonable course.

What separates these two reactions to threat?

Ignorance plays a role. If you really don't know what's happening to or around you, it's easy to get scared. New and better facts can calm you down -- unless they don't. There are many stories of lost hikers so panicked that they have literally walked across a road and disappeared into the bush on the other side. Fear can trump facts and, as in Oklahoma City, it happens all the time. But it doesn't stop there. Fear can build its own set of pseudo-facts to justify itself ("Obama is a Muslim alien!") and that happens all the time too.

Fear, of course, is sometimes justified by fact. When faced by a real physical threat, fear triggers the biological responses that help you survive. Working in the Giraffe Heroes Project, I've learned a lot about why people fear when their fear is not justified by fact.

I put fear of death at the top of the list. Too few people ever take the time or effort during life to develop a sufficient spiritual basis for their existence that will allow them to be comfortable with its ending. So a relentless, insidious disease like Ebola brings a special, terrifying feeling of helplessness.

Isolation builds fear. We are naturally communal animals, and the more today's culture separates us into political, economic and social enclaves, the easier it becomes to fear those not like us, to justify and reinforce the protective walls we put around ourselves, and to deliberately close ourselves off from facts that might lead to breaching those walls.

Fear sells. Unscrupulous media, political and corporate figures have perfected it to an art form to build ratings, careers and fortunes. Media is pervasive and immediate, which greatly reduces time for reflection, assuming we have the mind to reflect.

Fear is abetted by lack of trust, and not just in those who never deserved it in the first place. We have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Too many of us trust no one other than those who deliberately pander to our fears. Too many trust independent professional analyses less that they trust unsubstantiated drivel from Fox News or gossip from friends who favor the same limited sources of information as we do. Why leave an echo chamber to risk learning something new that might challenge a worldview that provides one of the few sources of stability we have left?

I think all of this was going on in Oklahoma City and the victims were 24 orphans from Kenya, the truth, and America's reputation in the world.

We need to redouble our efforts to fix this. There are plenty of brave women and men, in Oklahoma City as in the nation, who honor fact, speak the truth and persevere under fire. Their stories are powerful, their examples inspiring. We need to make special efforts to make sure they are heard above the dins of fear and ignorance. We need to hold our schools more accountable for teaching critical thing than we now do, and to accept these lessons ourselves. We need to force changes in our electoral processes and funding rules that make it harder for well-funded, self-serving fear-panderers to succeed. Red or Blue, we need to elect more people of courage and integrity committed to serving the common good.

We need to be less afraid.

The Handshake of Asia's Dreams?

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 16:48
Rumor has it that in early November, on the sidelines of the big, Asian regional economic meeting called APEC China's President Xi Jiping and Japan's Prime Minister Abe Shinzo might shake hands.



A far cry if so from last January during the World Economic Forum at Davos when Xi and Abe did not meet but nonetheless managed to make international headlines together by getting into a rhetorical slugfest through comments made separately to reporters summoning the specter of 1914. This added shot of World War I to the usual cocktail of claims and denials about World War II -- a blend of well-known issues such as the Nanjing Massacre, the Japanese military's system of sexual slavery, and the notorious shrine to war dead in Tokyo, Yasukuni -- skyrocketed Asia's collective blood pressure, which was tense already from the increased presence of government ships and fighter jets circling around the islands that China, Taiwan, and Japan each claims in the East China Sea: would shots be fired?

The good news is that none was, yet the frenzied levels of speculation now in Beijing, Taipei, and Tokyo and also among Washington's community of pundits and policy makers about a meet and greet that has not happened -- and which will leave no paper trail even if it does -- do nothing other than make clear that more needs to happen to move Asia forward than a potential 60 second photo op.

To many outside this insider game who are concerned with real and pressing international problems, it is understandably preposterous that the leaders of the world's second and third largest economies could avoid one another as Xi and Abe have during their respective two years in office, let alone make a point of it. The IMF's Christine Lagarde has long expressed her bewilderment: "The current status of the global economy needs both Japan and China fully engaged."

She's right, and her comments reveal today's untenable situation in Asia where quicksand undergirds the region's interactions, sparing only those who use historical events as cruise missiles to raise their domestic fortunes. This is true equally in Beijing and Tokyo and does nothing but drag the region backward and further obfuscate what actually happened. An added shame in Japan -- the perpetrator nation of the historical horrors -- deniers of the past openly denigrate the few, still-living victims of these ever-distant histories by hollowing out the truth of their lives during the remainder of them.



Those who would directly challenge this lose-lose game now, however, are forced to play by rules that define the past as full of whatever fact you need to stay in power while discrediting the ones you don't. As a result, even if Abe and Xi shake hands and say hello at APEC there is little to suggest that a widespread feeling of reconciliation will erupt throughout China and Japan. How could it? In the same breath, for example, that handlers on Team Abe leak the handshake's possibility they cannot promise that the prime minister will desist from visiting the Yasukuni shrine, an act whenever it may come guaranteed to infuriate literally billions of people regardless of how imbalanced any Chinese charge of militarism against Japan is today given its own post-1945 history.

It is almost 20 years since Japan's 1995 so-called Murayama statement named for then Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi who delivered it and through which he acknowledged that Japan had "caused tremendous suffering to people in many countries, particularly to those in Asian nations through its colonial rule and aggression." Yet ongoing acts like Prime Minister Abe's December 2013 Yasukuni visit impel Chinese and Koreans and others to decry Japan's words as empty.



This self-perpetuating and damning cycle has now bred widespread apology fatigue among Japanese especially when China's righteous indignation comes hand in hand with fleets of warships. So what might it take from a Japanese statesman to put an end to this and redirect Asia's path forward?

Noticing what is absent in the handshake hype is instructive, which is mention of the twentieth century's most significant gesture of reconciliation: Willy Brandt's 1970 collapse -- the famous Warschauer Kniefall -- in front of the monument to the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.



Much is made of the "Why can't Japan be more like Germany?" approach, which is as tiresome to most Japanese as Chinese demands. Significant here, however, is not the Japan/Germany comparison but rather the genius of Brandt's political act: it caught the world by surprise and captured the imagination of hope.

Contested at first, soon Brandt's kneel defined humility. Historically, it measures Europe's step away from its own cycle of punitive polemical politics.

Asians need a moment of shared hope on which to build, yet next week's precisely scripted, potential handshake has already negated the spontaneity that sparks such optimism. And if the men don't shake hands... watch out!

Outlandish to suggest, Prime Minister Abe might actually achieve what Brandt achieved not by offering his hand to President Xi but by bowing deeply to him.

Abe's personal outlook makes this highly unlikely -- if not wholly absurd -- and also arguably distasteful given that he has glorified men judged internationally as war criminals. What such a moment could accomplish, however, makes it worth contemplating. Xi would have to accept Abe's gesture, and it would become possible to imagine Asia's strongest nations moving forward towards the cooperation needed for real threats they share in common: global warming, loose nuclear weapons, and wild demographic shifts.

Mr. Abe, why not surprise the world?

ISIS Launches New Attack On Syria's Kobani

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 16:32
MURSITPINAR, Turkey (AP) — Fighters from the Islamic State group launched Saturday a new offensive on the northern Syrian town of Kobani after shelling the area from their positions nearby, activists and a Kurdish official said.

Heavy fighting took place in Kobani Saturday afternoon and many mortar shells were fired into the town. Machinegun fire could be clearly heard from inside the town where black smoke was billowing. The U.S. Central Command said an airstrike destroyed an IS artillery piece near Kobani. In the afternoon, warplanes of the U.S.-led coalition could be heard flying over Kobani.

Idriss Nassan, a senior official in Kobani, said the fighting concentrated on the southern and eastern edges of the town, also known as Ayn Arab.

"They think they can enter the city and these are just dreams," Nassan told The Associated Press by telephone adding that IS fighters have not been able to take Kobani despite more than a month of attacks.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighting concentrated on the eastern side of the town, surrounded on three sides by Islamic State fighters. It added that IS fighters were spreading news in areas under their control that they will take Kobani on Saturday.

IS launched its offensive on Kobani in mid-September and captured dozens of villages before entering parts of the town. The fighting has forced 200,000 people to flee to neighboring Turkey from the fighting.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Central Command said its forces conducted more than 135 airstrikes against the militants in and around Kobani, killing hundreds of IS fighters.

The Observatory and Aleppo-based activist Ahamd al-Ahmad said that the area near the northern village of Handarat witnessed intense clashes between Syrian rebels and government forces.

Government forces are trying to cut a main road linking rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo, Syria's largest city, with those in the countryside, Al-Ahmad said via Skype.

The Observatory said the fighting near Handarat has left 15 soldiers and pro-government gunmen dead as well as 12 opposition fighters since the early hours of Saturday.

____

Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue contributed to this report from Beirut.

Nurse Under Ebola Quarantine Criticizes Her Treatment

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 16:11
Kaci Hickox, the first nurse to be quarantined under a strict new policy on her return from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, criticized her treatment in a Dallas Morning News op-ed on Saturday.

Her words echoed concerns voiced by medical professionals that a mandatory 21-day quarantine for doctors and nurses who have treated Ebola patients would deter volunteers from signing on to fight the epidemic.

"I am scared about how health care workers will be treated at airports when they declare that they have been fighting Ebola in West Africa," Hickox wrote. "I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganization, fear and, most frightening, quarantine."

On Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced that they will require a 21-day quarantine for travelers arriving at airports in either state who have had contact with Ebola victims in West Africa. Their decision came a day after Craig Spencer, a Doctors Without Borders physician who had recently returned to New York from Guinea, tested positive for Ebola. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn soon followed suit with a mandatory quarantine in his state.

Hickox arrived at Newark Liberty International airport on Friday and was ushered into a quarantine office, where she was kept for six hours, according to her account.

She said she was treated with hostility and was not given an explanation of what was happening or when she might be able to leave:

One after another, people asked me questions. Some introduced themselves, some didn’t. One man who must have been an immigration officer because he was wearing a weapon belt that I could see protruding from his white coveralls barked questions at me as if I was a criminal.

Two other officials asked about my work in Sierra Leone. One of them was from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They scribbled notes in the margins of their form, a form that appeared to be inadequate for the many details they are collecting.

I was tired, hungry and confused, but I tried to remain calm. My temperature was taken using a forehead scanner and it read a temperature of 98. I was feeling physically healthy but emotionally exhausted.

Three hours passed. No one seemed to be in charge. No one would tell me what was going on or what would happen to me.

I called my family to let them know that I was OK. I was hungry and thirsty and asked for something to eat and drink. I was given a granola bar and some water. I wondered what I had done wrong.

After a subsequent forehead scan registered her temperature at 101 (a result, she wrote, of being flushed and "upset at being held with no explanation"), Hickox was put into quarantine at Newark University Hospital. Though Hickox tested negative for Ebola, she is still going to be held under a 21-day quarantine.

Public health experts have said that mandatory quarantines for people who may have been exposed to Ebola are not medically necessary, since a person does not become contagious until they exhibit symptoms of the disease.

Read Kaci Hickox's full account at the Dallas Morning News.

UPDATE [ 11:15 p.m. ET]: Doctors Without Borders has issued a press release expressing concern over Hickox's treatment, saying the organization is "very concerned about the conditions and uncertainty she is facing and is attempting to obtain information from hospital officials." The statement continues:

While measures to protect public health are of paramount importance, they must be balanced against the rights of health workers returning from fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to fair and reasonable treatment and the full disclosure of information to them, along with information about intended courses of action from local and state health authorities.

The full press release can be read here.

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

Scott Walker Based 'Living Wage' Ruling On Restaurant Industry Study

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 15:49
Under pressure to raise the state's minimum wage, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker confidently declared that there was no need. Low-wage workers had filed a complaint charging that the state's minimum wage -- $7.25 -- did not constitute a "living wage" as mandated by state law. But the Republican governor's administration, after examining the issue, announced on Oct. 6 that it found "no reasonable cause" for the workers' complaint.

That official government finding, according to documents reviewed by the International Business Times, was largely based on information provided by the state's restaurant industry -- which represents major low-wage employers including fast-food companies.

GOP Leader Unhappy With Flood of Money in Politics

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 15:43
At a campaign event for Senate hopeful Joni Ernst in Des Moines on Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told me that he is unhappy with Citizens United and would revisit the landmark Supreme Court decision to make it more balanced. However, Graham does not think any action will happen without a movement. He said that it will take a people-powered revolution to change the big money culture in Washington... I couldn't agree more!

Watch our exchange here...

NYC Mayor Eats At Same Restaurant As Ebola Patient To Calm City's Fears

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 15:24
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio ate lunch at The Meatball Shop in Manhattan's Greenwich Village Saturday, four days after Ebola patient Dr. Craig Spencer reportedly dined there and one day after the restaurant temporarily closed for a Health Department inspection.

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, who joined de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, for the meal, shared a photo on Twitter:

Dining at The Meatball Shop with @BilldeBlasio @Chirlane pic.twitter.com/yNWCH0v13r

— Dr. Mary Bassett (@DrMaryTBassett) October 25, 2014


In a subsequent tweet, Bassett said the Meatball Shop's owner, Daniel Holzman, told her there was a line down the block when it reopened for business Friday night, adding that it was his "proudest day as a New Yorker."

As news of Spencer's case -- and the activities he partook in during the days leading up to his diagnosis -- spread through New York City, authorities have gone out of their way to ensure residents that the establishments he visited before he tested positive for Ebola are safe to patronize.

In addition to his meal at The Meatball Shop, de Blasio went out of his way to take the subway on Friday, as did New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who last week announced the transit system would be subject to random Ebola drills.

Spencer rode the A, 1 and L trains Wednesday evening before experiencing a fever and diarrhea the next morning, sparking unfounded fears that other MTA passengers risked contracting the virus. Ebola can only be spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a patient presently exhibiting symptoms, and officials maintain Spencer showed no signs of the disease until Thursday.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn Borough President Eric bowled at Williamsburg's Gutter on Saturday, which Spencer also visited Wednesday evening. The bowling alley had reopened a few hours earlier after shutting down Thursday night for a cleaning and health inspection.

In honor of @TheGutter's reopening, I bowled plenty of gutter balls! It's safe (and fun) to visit and beat my effort! pic.twitter.com/PrxwGpWtLS

— Eric Adams (@BPEricAdams) October 25, 2014


Like The Meatball Shop, The Gutter took to social media to thank its followers for an outpouring of support. "We can't tell you how much your support has meant to us, but now we are happy to get back to being your little neighborhood bowling alley," a Facebook post read.

On Friday, New Yorkers riding the A train and milling about at Bellevue Hospital, where Spencer is currently being held in isolation, told The Huffington Post that they weren't worried about Ebola. "I am as nervous as any prudent concern would make me," Davis Marcey-Neil, a writer taking the A train, said. "I'm a New Yorker. We can handle it."

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

Fox News and Bill O'Reilly Keep Having Pastor Who Says Obama is "Paving the Way for the Future Reign of the Antichrist" as Guest

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-10-25 03:09
The First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas is a major institution within the Southern Baptist faith, long powerful and influential. Its senior pastor, Robert Jeffress, made headlines in 2007 with a Sunday sermon calling Willard Romney a member of a religious "cult." Specifically, he said this:

"Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Even though he talks about Jesus as his Lord and savior, he is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult."

Just before President Obama's reelection day in 2012, Jeffress stood in the pulpit and let fly this gem (audio here):

"I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he's not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes. {a laugh line, congregation responds accordingly} President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist."

I'm no Doogie Howser, but isn't this medically certifiable in the real world? If the guy at the corner bar, or at the table next to you, says such nuttiness, don't you move away? I know I do. Weirdo's bother me. Call me old fashioned.

So here we are on October 24, 2014, and Jeffress is a guest on O'Reilly's show. The host says to him that the pastor no doubt spiritually counsels big and powerful people, to which the man of God nods approvingly. He's treated with great respect by O'Reilly. He then says bluntly that Islam is a "false religion," and O'Reilly says nothing in reply. Bill is "looking out for the folks," as he puts it.

This is Fox News, 2014, stirring the pot. It's what they do.

Barack Obama attended a popular mega-Christian church in Chicago for years before becoming president, and the Christian pastor was a firebrand who later raised the ire of Republicans. This radical Christian from Dallas doesn't elicit a peep. Romney wisely ignored the guy (Texas was always in the bag for him), and Republicans say nothing about him, yet Fox News still has him as a frequent guest on their shows. This is sheer crackpottery!

Romney and his family have continued to show up on Fox News for glowing interviews since 2012. Regular viewers should be more discerning. The joint is half-baked.

A Song For Bruce Rauner, Illinois' Republican Governor Candidate

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-10-24 23:30
While this election year may not be going just as how Illinois' Republican candidate for Governor Bruce Rauner would like them to, the multi-millionaire still has all his loot and now a lovely new tune to enjoy it with!

Matt Farmer, a Chicago lawyer and musician has composed and recorded "Plutocrat (The Ballad of Bruce Rauner)," a country song that is sure to get Rauner's legs moving, even with his pockets so heavily weighted with cash.

Watch the video above.

Farmer blogged about the tune for The Huffington Post, framing it as such:

What do you give a guy who owns nine homes, made $60 million last year and wants to be governor of Illinois?

I decided to give him the gift of music.

After all, a guy who loves Wrangler jeans and Carhartt coats as much as Bruce Rauner does would probably enjoy blasting a good country song over the stereo in his 20-year-old van.

While the instrumentals will please almost any ear, the lyrics may remind Rauner of some of the troubles he has encountered in his bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.

The lyrical jabs are many, and they are sharp. Rauner's pitch to win black voters with a $1 million investment comes under fire, "I'm tryin' hard to buy your November votes,"; as does his alleged use of loopholes in tax filings, "Who hates payin' taxes for Medicare,"; and his choice of where to store all his money, "And I bank in the Cayman Islands anytime I can."

After trailing Rauner for months, Quinn has rallied and the two are now in a close race with just weeks to go, some polls giving Quinn the edge. The contest between the two has been messy, and Rauner's image has taken a hit with news that a Chicago Sun-Times reporter resigned after the newspaper allegedly bowed to pressure from the Rauner campaign to punish the reporter for writing a story the campaign was not happy with.

But now Rauner has this great tune to put some spring in his step!

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article identifed the Governor of Illinois as Sally Quinn. The Governor of Illinois is Pat Quinn.