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The Violent Side of Friday Night Lights

The Violent Side of Friday Night Lights

Seven players were arrested at a high school for raping their teammates. You can draw a line from there through Steubenville, Penn State, and the NFL.

There’s a new scandal in football and this time it’s not in the NFL or college.

Last Friday, seven members of New Jersey’s Sayreville War Memorial High School were arrested for sexually assaulting their teammates. The boys, ages 15 to 17, were arrested for “aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal restraint, and hazing for engaging in an act of sexual penetration upon one of the juvenile victims.”

Far from an isolated act of brutality perpetrated by a few bad actors, a high school football team allegedly engaged in ritualized torture, and according to an unnamed 14-year old who spoke with the New York Times, “It’s been going on for a long time.”

On Monday, Superintendent of Schools Richard Labbe cancelled the remainder of the season, stating, “there was enough evidence to substantiate there were incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying that took place on a pervasive level, on a wide-scale level, and at a level in which the players knew, tolerated and in general accepted.”

This is rape culture and in many places, it’s a part of football. What allegedly happened at Sayreville indicates there is a culture in which chronic rape was normalized and even possibly condoned. (To be clear, this isn’t an indictment of high school football in particular or football players as a whole. The game itself can still be beautiful, breathtaking and a point of communal pride.)

Rape culture is a much larger, far more pervasive society-wide problem that has flourished within some parts of football, as generations have been taught that a militaristic, power-worshipping mindset is the only way to teach kids how to play the game.

The exercise of that power manifests itself in multiple ways. For Sayreville, it meant punishing and humiliating the weak, ritualistically subjecting them to humiliation and debasement. But the fact that this brutality took the form of a sexual assault isn’t a random occurrence and it’s on the rise. As Bloomberg News reported in 2013 “More than 40 high school boys were sodomized with foreign objects by their teammates in over a dozen alleged incidents reported in the past year, compared with about three incidents a decade ago.”

This is rape culture and in many places, it’s a part of football.

Supreme Court allows Texas to use voter ID law

Supreme Court allows Texas to use voter ID law

The Supreme Court in a pre-dawn order Saturday said Texas could proceed with its strict voter ID law in next month’s election, despite a lower court’s ruling that it was unconstitutional.

The court gave no reasoning for its decision, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

“The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,” Ginsburg wrote.

An appeals court had said it was too close to the election to stop what has been described as the nation’s strictest photo ID law.

But Ginsburg said the court had shirked its duty, since a district court after a full trial had said the law was written with discriminatory intent and could keep an estimated 600,000 registered voters from casting ballots.

It was the fourth time in recent weeks that the Supreme Court has been called on to decide whether changes in election laws approved by Republican-controlled state legislatures could be used in next month’s crucial midterm elections.

The states said the changes were made to combat voter fraud, protect the public’s confidence in the electoral process and establish uniformity. Civil rights groups and Democrats who challenged the law said they were meant to suppress minority voting.

In each case, the court neither confronted the merits of the laws, nor did the majority explain its reasoning. The justices let changes go forward in Ohio and North Carolina, but the stopped a new voter ID law in Wisconsin.

Anatomy of an Obama cave

Anatomy of an Obama cave

Barack Obama is pictured. | AP Photo

It was just a matter of time.

Sure, President Barack Obama had for close to two weeks resisted calls for an “Ebola czar.” Indeed, since the outbreak of the virus, he had insisted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should lead the administration’s response. And as recently as Wednesday, his top spokesman stressed that the White House was doing fine without designating one high-level official to focus solely on the issue.

But to many in Washington, it was a question not of if but when Obama would cave to congressional and public demands for him to assert himself on Ebola by appointing a point-person to manage the issue, especially once Democrats started joining the Republican chorus of criticism.

Secret space plane lands at US air force base after unknown two-year mission

Still from video made available by the Vandenberg Air Force Base shows an infrared view of the X-37B unmanned spacecraft.

Secret space plane lands at US air force base after unknown two-year mission

Associated Press in Vandenberg Air Force Base, California 

Resembling a small space shuttle, the X-37B landed in southern California after a 674 days in orbit on a secret mission

A top-secret space plane landed Friday at an air force base on the southern California coast.

The plane spent nearly two years circling Earth on a classified mission. Known as the X-37B, it resembles a mini space shuttle.

It safely touched down at 9.24am Friday, officials at Vandenberg Air Force Base said.

Just what the plane was doing during its 674 days in orbit has been the subject of sometimes spectacular speculation.

Several experts have theorized it carried a payload of spy gear in its cargo bay. Other theories sound straight out of a James Bond film, including that the spacecraft would be able to capture the satellites of other nations or shadow China’s space lab.

The US air force's first unmanned re-entry spacecraft landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The X-37B program has been an orphan of sorts, bouncing since its inception in 1999 between several federal agencies, Nasa among them. It now resides under the air force’s rapid capabilities office.

The plane that landed Friday is one of two built by Boeing. This is the program’s third mission, and began in December 2012.

The plane stands 9.5ft tall and is just over 29ft long, with a wingspan under 15ft. It weighs 11,000lbs and has solar panels that unfurl to charge its batteries once in orbit.

Do Detroit's water shutoffs violate international law? UN to investigate.

Do Detroit's water shutoffs violate international law? UN to investigate.

By Henry Gass

Two UN human rights officials will visit Detroit this weekend to investigate whether widespread water shutoffs in the city are a violation of international law.

The visit is coming in the wake of a letter sent to the UN Human Rights Council detailing potential human rights violations apparent in the water shutoffs. The letter – authored by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan – argues that the shutoffs are unjustified because many of those affected can't afford to pay their bills. The letter also says that the shutoffs disproportionately affect Detroit’s African-American residents.

"In a city where nearly 40 percent of residents live below the federal poverty line," the letter reads, "thousands of residents are at risk of losing water service because they simply cannot afford to pay the bills. "

The water shutoffs have turned into a flashpoint of Detroit's ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, which represents the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department shut off water services to more than 27,000 customers in the first nine months of 2014, and the shutoffs triggered mass protests in the city over the summer when the DWSD accelerated the process.

What the 2014 oil crash means

What the 2014 oil crash means


Prices are falling—fast. Is that good or bad news for the United States?

Oil prices are in free-fall. That’s good economic news for the United States, even if it ends up meaning a serious hit to the shale drilling bonanza. Whether you cheer or boo the plunge, though, depends a lot on where you live and what work you do.

A barrel of Brent crude – the most important global oil price – costs almost $30 less than its late-June high, a decline of more than 25 percent. Nearly half of that drop has come in the last two weeks.

The last time oil prices seemed this unhinged was during the 2008 financial crisis (though prices actually fell further during early 2012). That’s unnerving to many. But the U.S. energy scene has changed dramatically since then. An oil boom has cranked up U.S. production and slashed imports, challenging conventional wisdom on the economic and geopolitical fronts. It used to be clear that falling oil prices were great news for the United States. But it’s not obvious that that’s still the case.

Falling crude prices will crimp oil producers’ profits and, eventually, deter them from drilling. That hurts the U.S. economy. But the benefit to consumers still outweighs that. Amid all the excitement about the rise of U.S. oil production, many appear to have forgotten the United States still consumes far more oil than it produces. A sustained $30 decline in oil prices translates into more than $200 billion a year of savings for U.S. consumers through lower prices for gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and home heating oil. Much of that windfall will be plowed back into the economy as consumers spend their cash, multiplying its impact just like an economic stimulus policy. (Citigroup estimates that falling oil prices would deliver a $1.1 trillion stimulus to the global economy if they were sustained.) Two hundred billion dollars is comparable to the amount the oil and gas industry spends each year on all production in the United States. Even if investment were cut in half – something no one expects to happen at current prices – the benefits of lower oil prices would greatly outweigh these costs.

Are Over Half the Works on the Art Market Really Fakes?

Are Over Half the Works on the Art Market Really Fakes?

A new study claims that over 70 percent of artworks for sale are either fakes or misattributions. If that’s true, are galleries and the art-loving very rich being taken for fools?

“Fakes are works by other artists that are passed off as works by more important artists. Forgeries are works made deliberately to resemble the real thing.”

In centuries past, it was absolutely normal for an owner of a fine painting to have a competent artist come and make one or more copies, which they would hang at a different house, if they had several houses, or give to a relative or a friend. And if they sold a valuable picture, they would always have a copy made.

The result is that an enormous number of the pictures hanging in English country houses are not in fact painted by whom they are supposed to be.

Museums are said by many in the art world to be more heavily infiltrated by fakes than private collections, as a collector who discovers he owns a fake can sometimes offload it to a museum for a tax credit. The museums, some art-world insiders say, go along with the ruse so as not to alienate their important donors, and stick the dubious work in the basement.

However, the question of just how much work on the open market really is fake, forged, or misattributed is one that has bedeviled the industry for years. It is also extremely sensitive—none of the leading auction houses would even comment on the issue to the Daily Beast.

Pope Francis rents out Sistine Chapel to Porsche

Pope Francis rents out Sistine Chapel to Porsche

Pope Francis rents out Sistine Chapel to Porsche

Pope Francis is allowing the endangered Sistine Chapel to be rented out for a corporate event, with the proceeds to benefit the needy — while at the same time cracking down on visitors to the world’s most famous church.

Porsche will be the first to hold an outside fundraiser amid Michelangelo’s fragile frescoes. The luxury German auto giant is offering an exclusive tour of Rome, including a concert inside the chapel, at a cost of more than 4,000 euros ($5,100) a pop.

At the same, the Vatican said Thursday that it would cap the annual number of visitors at 6 million to protect the Renaissance masterpieces from the tourist hordes. Dust, sweat and human breath have damaged the 500-year-old paintings, including the famous creation scene of God’s outstretched arm giving life to Adam. Antonio Paolucci, head of the Vatican Museums, said “radical intervention” was needed to preserve the paintings, prompting the Vatican to install new climate and lighting systems to cut down on heat, humidity and dust.

Patek Philippe’s Best-Kept Secret

Patek Philippe’s Best-Kept Secret

By Michael Clerizo
Hong Kong Triads May Gain From Occupy Central

Hong Kong Triads May Gain From Occupy Central

Hong Kong triads may gain power as pro-democracy protests continue, one risk expert says. WSJ's Ramy Inocencio talks to Steve Vickers, CEO of risk consultancy SVA.

Rand Paul claims Ebola is 'incredibly contagious' and.....

Paul walks through a crowd of young Republicans at the state GOP headquarters. 

Rand Paul claims Ebola is 'incredibly contagious' and .....

White House is being dishonest about how easily it can spread.

By Francesca Chambers and Associated Press

Sen. Rand Paul told a group of college students on Wednesday that Ebola is 'incredibly contagious' and can spread from a person who has the disease to someone standing three feet away and said the White House should be honest about that.

His comments directly conflict with statements from world health authorities who have dealt with Ebola outbreaks since 1976.

Paul, a doctor and a presumed GOP presidential contender, made his comments during a stop at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. In his remarks, he suggested Ebola could spread at a cocktail party attended by someone who is symptomatic, according to CNN video footage.

The Kentucky senator told a conservative radio show host that 'we should not underestimate the transmissibility' of the virus and warned that society may not be 'making sound, rational, scientific decisions' about Ebola 'because of political correctness.' 

'It's a big mistake to downplay and act as if "oh, this is not a big deal, we can control all this." This could get beyond our control,' Paul, who has an MD in optometry from Duke University, told Laura Ingraham.

'My suspicion is that it's a lot more transmissible than that if people who are taking every precaution are getting it.'

Matt Lauer's Wife filed Divorce papers in 2006

Not a pretty picture: In divorce paprs filed in 2006, Matt Lauer's wife Annette (above) said her husband was 'extremely controlling'

Matt Lauer accused of 'inhuman treatment and physically endangering the well-being of his wife.

In divorce papers filed by Annette Lauer in 2006, Matt Lauer is described as 'extremely controlling' and accused of 'cruel and inhuman treatment'

By Chris Spargo for MailOnline

Divorce papers filed by the wife of Matt Lauer nearly a decade ago which came out this week accuse the popular morning show host of some shocking behavior. Annette Lauer filed the papers in 2006 stating that Matt valued his work over his family and was 'extremely controlling.' Furthermore, Annette claimed at the time she suffered 'cruel and inhuman' treatment at the hands of her husband, who also demonstrated 'extreme anger and hostility towards her.'

Matt and Annette Lauer

Matt filed his own legal action days later, saying any 'cruel and inhuman treatment' he may have exhibited was 'provoked' by his wife. 

A source close to the couple said of the papers, 'These divorce papers were filed more than eight years ago and revoked three weeks later. In New York at that time, irreconcilable differences could not be considered grounds for divorce. A spouse had to prove cruel and in-humane or unsafe treatment, which meant that lawyers had to use those exact terms to establish grounds.' 

That same source added, 'Matt and Annette just happily celebrated their 16-year wedding anniversary over dinner with their three children.' 

How Old People Will Decide Your Future

How Old People Will Decide Your Future

Older voters are the electorate’s fast growing demographic – and a major reason Republicans can win big in 2016.

The political impact of shifting demographics is a hot topic. Judging from the coverage, it would be easy to assume that more liberal younger voters or rising number of Hispanics were the only significant demographic trend.

But that’s neglecting the fastest growing segment of the electorate: older voters.

As an Atlantic piece put it, “America is about to get really old.” In the 2012 election, those 65 years or older were 17 percent of the total vote. But by 2030 those numbers will nearly double, and over 30 percent of the electorate will be over 65. To put this in perspective, the Hispanic vote will probably be only about 15 percent of the electorate by 2030.

Yet the potential impact of older voters seems lost in the current political discussion. In contrast to previous cycles where the debate has been dominated by issues of particular concern to seniors - topics like Medicare, prescription drug prices, and social security – the battle over older voters has been muted by louder arguments, like gender issues, beheadings and disease. For every stock footage shot of a senior on cable news there are dozens of concerned women, terrorists and Ebola horrors.

Yet everyone seems to agree that the higher turnout of senior voters in an off year election is one of the key advantages favoring Republicans, and has been a growing GOP advantage in recent presidential elections. Older voters comprised the greatest increase in Republican voter share between the 2008 and 2012 election. McCain won 65-plus Americans by 8 points, and Romney increased his share to 12 points. If similar rates of increase continued, it would quickly become a dominant factor in elections.

The trend of decreased interest among younger voters and increased among older appears to be accelerating this year. A Pew Research Center poll released Monday found that “25 percent of adults 65 and older were closely following the midterm elections, compared with 5 percent of adults ages 18-29.” 
U.S. Air Force personnel put up a 25-bed hospital in Liberia.

In Liberia, U.S. Soldiers Race Ebola

Liberia was barely able to respond to the needs of its people before the outbreak of Ebola. Subsequently, the U.S. and other countries are essentially creating a health system from scratch on extreme deadlines.

American and Liberian soldiers hammer, saw and sweat in the afternoon sun here in a frenetic campaign to build the county’s first Ebola-treatment unit. Soon, the soldiers will have floodlights to work round-the-clock shifts.

The unfolding epidemic has killed more than 4,400 people, mostly in West Africa. Everything in Liberia was needed weeks ago, and the Ebola-treatment centers are no exception. A month ago, President Barack Obama vowed to build 17 units. Soldiers have yet to complete one.


Liberia’s health infrastructure was barely able to respond to the needs of its people before the outbreak. Ebola has since steamrolled it. As a result, the U.S. and other countries are essentially creating a health system from scratch on extreme deadlines.

The challenges are huge: Power outages and a lack of basic medical supplies are among them. Decrepit roads and heavy rains plague construction sites. Doctors and nurses were already in short supply because of years of low pay.

How fast the U.S. and international effort in West Africa comes together could determine whether the virus is largely contained in West Africa—or spreads more aggressively abroad. Cases have surfaced in the U.S., Spain and Germany. The World Health Organization said this week that there could be as many as 10,000 new cases a week in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone by the end of 2014. That followed its criticism that the international community was too slow to respond.

Now the U.S. and others fighting Ebola are bringing to West Africa the sophisticated facilities these countries have lacked.

Before the outbreak, Liberia’s only lab capable of testing blood for highly infectious diseases was the Liberian Institute on Biomedical Research—a compound of World War II-era buildings and rusted cages that used to house chimpanzee test subjects. The bat-infested facility could only process 40 blood specimens a day and the electricity only worked intermittently.

Corporate Egg Freezing

What if electively freezing one’s eggs is not a means of empowerment but a surrender to corporate control?

Corporate Egg Freezing

By Rebecca Mead

Apple and Facebook’s offer might be the kind of employee benefit whose principal beneficiary is the company.

Deferring childbearing from one’s twenties or early thirties until one’s later thirties or forties certainly has its appeal for the woman with ambitions beyond motherhood. Lots of women have chanced it, even before egg freezing came along and supplied a possible, if not entirely reliable, form of counter-infertility insurance. Still, even with this tantalizing suggestion of reproductive liberty, it’s hard to figure out exactly how long to postpone. A woman might skip having children in her twenties or thirties in order to focus on her career, only to discover by her forties that its demands—not to mention the encroachment of middle age—make motherhood even less manageable than it appeared at twenty-five or thirty.

And it seems overly optimistic to hope that, with nature’s deadlines subverted, a woman’s decision about whether or when to bear children might become an entirely autonomous choice—hers alone to make, independent of cultural and professional pressures as well as biological ones. Might Apple and Facebook’s offers of egg freezing be, in fact, the kind of employee benefit whose principal beneficiary is the company? What if, rather than being a means of empowerment—whereby a young woman is no longer subject to anything so quaintly analog as the ticking of a biological clock—freezing one’s eggs is understood as a surrender to the larger, more invisibly pervasive force of corporate control?

Such skepticism is buttressed by a defining paradox of contemporary life, which is that while most of us have willingly surrendered a large measure of our privacy and even our decision-making to tech companies for the sake of convenience or pleasure, many of us remain queasily uncomfortable with the terms of the tradeoff. We may tolerate the disconcerting specificity of Facebook’s targeted ads as they appear alongside our friends’ latest photos; we may even, on occasion, find ourselves grateful for the suggestion, and make an online purchase with which we are afterward quite delighted. But we remain alive to the conviction that Facebook’s best interests and our own are unlikely to be in alignment. We feel ourselves to be uneasily balanced between submission and suspicion. The suggestion that such companies might, through an apparently generous employee benefit, obliquely engineer the reproductive choices of their employees is unsettling in its devil’s-bargain familiarity.

The inclusion of egg freezing as an employee benefit partakes of the techno-utopian fantasy on which companies like Facebook and Apple subsist—the conviction that there must be a solution to every problem, an answer to every question, a response to every need, if only the right algorithm can be found. But the difficulties that an American woman continues to face in her efforts to reconcile having a career with being a mother are more than faulty code to be debugged. Rather, they are vast and systemic: the limited availability of subsidized care for preschool children, the resistance of corporate culture to flexible or reduced hours for the parents of young children, the lack of federally mandated, paid family leave.
The Exercise Cost of Soda and Juice

The Exercise Cost of Soda and Juice

James Hamblin

When people think about sugar calories in terms of physical activity, they choose well.

What if nutrition labels told people exactly what calories meant, in practical terms? A bottle of Coke could dole out specific exercise requirements. The calories herein, it might say, are the equivalent of a 50-minute jog. The decision to drink the Coke then becomes, would you rather spend the evening on a treadmill, or just not drink the soda?

Some would say that's a joyless, infantilizing idea. The implication that people can't understand calorie counts is unduly cynical. Have a Coke and a smile, not a Coke and a guilt-wail. Others would protest on grounds that it's impossible to make this kind of exercise requirement universal to people of all ages, body sizes, and levels of fitness. Everyone burns calories at different rates. But Sara Bleich, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is not among these people. She describes these labels as her dream.

For the past four years, translating nutrition information into exercise equivalents has been the focus of Bleich's increasingly popular research endeavor. Her latest findings on the effectiveness of the concept are published today in the American Journal of Public Health. In the study, researchers posted signs next to the soda and juice in Baltimore corner stores that read: “Did you know that working off a bottle of soda or fruit juice takes about 50 minutes of running?” or “Did you know that working off a bottle of soda or fruit juice takes about five miles of walking?” (And, long as those distances and times may seem, they may even underestimate the magnitude of the metabolic insult of liquid sugar.)

The age of loneliness is killing us

Man sitting on a bench under a tree

The age of loneliness is killing us

George Monbiot

For the most social of creatures, the mammalian bee, there’s no such thing now as society. This will be our downfall.

What do we call this time? It’s not the information age: the collapse of popular education movements left a void filled by marketing and conspiracy theories. Like the stone age, iron age and space age, the digital age says plenty about our artefacts but little about society. The anthropocene, in which humans exert a major impact on the biosphere, fails to distinguish this century from the previous 20. What clear social change marks out our time from those that precede it? To me it’s obvious. This is the Age of Loneliness.

When Thomas Hobbes claimed that in the state of nature, before authority arose to keep us in check, we were engaged in a war “of every man against every man”, he could not have been more wrong. We were social creatures from the start, mammalian bees, who depended entirely on each other. The hominins of east Africa could not have survived one night alone. We are shaped, to a greater extent than almost any other species, by contact with others. The age we are entering, in which we exist apart, is unlike any that has gone before.

Three months ago we read that loneliness has become an epidemic among young adults. Now we learn that it is just as great an affliction of older people. A study by Independent Age shows that severe loneliness in England blights the lives of 700,000 men and 1.1m women over 50, and is rising with astonishing speed.

Ebola is unlikely ever to kill as many people as this disease strikes down. Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day; loneliness, research suggests, is twice as deadly as obesity. Dementia, high blood pressure, alcoholism and accidents – all these, like depression, paranoia, anxiety and suicide, become more prevalent when connections are cut. We cannot cope alone.

Yes, factories have closed, people travel by car instead of buses, use YouTube rather than the cinema. But these shifts alone fail to explain the speed of our social collapse. These structural changes have been accompanied by a life-denying ideology, which enforces and celebrates our social isolation. The war of every man against every man – competition and individualism, in other words – is the religion of our time, justified by a mythology of lone rangers, sole traders, self-starters, self-made men and women, going it alone. For the most social of creatures, who cannot prosper without love, there is no such thing as society, only heroic individualism. What counts is to win. The rest is collateral damage.

Southern Evangelicals Are Dwindling—and Taking Republican Votes With Them

Southern Evangelicals Are Dwindling—and Taking Republican Votes With Them

Demographic changes may help Democrats in the midterm elections.

By Robert P. Jones

White evangelical Protestants have remained a steadfast Republican constituency in both presidential and midterm congressional elections ever since the Reagan presidency, which marked what political scientists Merle and Earl Black dubbed “the great white switch.” In 2008 and 2012, roughly three-quarters of white born-again Christians supported GOP nominees John McCain (73 percent) and Mitt Romney (78 percent).  In the 2010 midterm election, similar numbers of white born-again Christians (77 percent) supported the GOP House candidate in their districts.

During the heady days of evangelical prominence in the 1980s and 1990s, white evangelical Protestant leaders frequently noted the decline of their more liberal mainline Protestant cousins, but now white evangelicals are seeing their own populations shrink. In recent years, for example, the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest evangelical denomination in the country, has reported steady declines in membership and new baptisms. Since 2007, the number of white evangelical Protestants nationwide has slipped from 22 percent in 2007 to 18 percent today.

A look at generational differences demonstrates that this is only the beginnings of a major shift away from a robust white evangelical presence and influence in the country. While white evangelical Protestants constitute roughly three in 10 (29 percent) seniors (age 65 and older), they account for only one in 10 (10 percent) members of the Millennial generation (age 18-29). In the last few national elections, however, because of high levels of voter turnout, white evangelical Protestants have managed to maintain an outsized presence at the ballot box according to national exit polls, representing roughly one-quarter of voters.

But the fact that there are currently five Southern states—Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and North Carolina— where polling shows that the Senate race margins are less than five percentage points indicates that 2014 may be the year that the underlying demographic trends finally exert enough force to make themselves felt. These changes are evident in analysis based on the American Values Atlas, a massive interactive online map of demographic and religious diversity in America based on 45,000 interviews conducted throughout 2013, created by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Social Science Research Solutions.

The Social Conservative Royal Rumble Is Brewing in Iowa

The Social Conservative Royal Rumble Is Brewing in Iowa

By Ben Jacobs

If Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee do throw in for 2016, they’ll have to top a growing horde of newcomers to win over their old caucus voters.

The two most crowded places in 2015 may be a subway car at rush hour and the stage at a Republican presidential debate. With the past two winners of the Iowa caucuses, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, both making moves toward a campaign and other social conservatives, ranging from Ben Carson to Ted Cruz, thinking about running, things are already looking crowded.

On Wednesday, Santorum told Real Clear Politics that he is approaching the 2016 election “as if I’m running.” Santorum, who won the Iowa caucuses and finished second in 2012 GOP primary, has never made a secret of the fact that he’s considering another bid for the nomination. The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania has stumped across the country this year for Republican candidates, including a significant number of visits to Iowa. He has also gone out of his way to endorse candidates in competitive primaries who backed him in 2012, most notably Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz in a congressional primary and Prof. Sam Clovis in the Hawkeye State’s Senate primary.

At the same time, Huckabee is organizing a trip to Europe with a number of pastors from early primary states after Election Day. The trip, first reported in June by David Brody at CBN, will focus on the leadership of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II and feature stops in London, Krakow, and Los Angeles. Longtime Huckabee aide Hogan Gidley described the trip to The Daily Beast as “an outstanding political move” that allows the former Arkansas governor to display his “understanding of the world around us.”

Biden’s son discharged from Navy after positive cocaine test.

Biden’s son discharged from Navy after positive cocaine test.

Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter was discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine, a source familiar with the matter confirmed Thursday.

The source spoke anonymously because no permission had been given to speak publicly about a personnel issue.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Biden was discharged earlier this year after failing a drug test in June 2013. A lawyer and former lobbyist, Biden was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy Reserve in 2013. He applied for a commission into the reserve as a public affairs officer at age 42. Because of his age, Biden needed a waiver to apply. The Journal reported he needed a second waiver because of a drug-related charge when he was younger, a request that is not unusual.

"It was the honor of my life to serve in the US Navy, and I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge," Hunter Biden said in a statement. "I respect the Navy's decision. With the love and support of my family, I'm moving forward."

Vice President Biden's office declined to comment.

Ebola challenges America’s ability to adapt

Ebola challenges America’s ability to adapt

In any health care setting, it is wise to listen to the nurses, who see all. Their reports from Dallas about the initial procedures used in treating Thomas Eric Duncan are appalling. Safety suits with exposed necklines left nurses to cover skin with tape. When tape is removed, it abrades the skin. One health expert I consulted described this practice in dealing with Ebola as “moronic.”

Proper protocols are now in place. But Ebola in America has been an exacting and brutal teacher.

First, we have seen that the infectiousness of Ebola increases as a patient grows sicker and the level of the virus spikes in his or her bloodstream. To the general public, this should provide some reassurance. When a patient begins to feel weak and achy at home, he or she is less likely to spread the disease. None of the people who lived in tight quarters with Duncan has (as of this writing) reported infection.

But for health workers treating very ill patients, the danger of infection is dramatically elevated. Any crack in a glove, any touching of the eye, might be enough. And when a patient’s viral load is sky-high, it is likely to be found even in his or her saliva and mucus. Theoretically, even a cough spraying sputum onto exposed skin might transmit the disease. A person in this condition would be too sick to walk the streets. The risk is to health-care workers who are not properly ­protected.

Second, we’ve learned that providing protection to health workers is a skill not possessed by every hospital. Reading a protocol off a Web site is one thing. Implementing a protocol, with perfection as the only acceptable standard, is another. It is the distance between reading a book on batting and taking a pitch in the major leagues. Most hospitals are poorly prepared to take very ill Ebola patients. This demands either the immediate deployment of federal Ebola “SWAT teams” when a case is reported or the careful transfer of patients to more competent facilities. The hurt feelings of local hospitals or mayors should matter not at all.

A wave for House Republicans?

A wave for House Republicans?

Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner is pictured. | Getty

Republicans are taking their most aggressive steps yet to parlay a favorable national climate and growing cash advantage into a historic House majority.

Aiming to stretch the political map, two prominent conservative groups, American Action Network and Congressional Leadership Fund, on Friday will announce a joint $3 million investment in seven House races, including contests in deep blue districts that are just now starting to be seen as realistic targets for Republicans.

They’re not saying it’s a wave, at least not yet. But Republicans are encouraged by what they’re seeing in the homestretch of the House campaign and are determined not to let an opportunity pass.

The coming offensive will reach as far as President Barack Obama’s home state of Hawaii, where recent polling in one district has shown Republicans to be surprisingly competitive. It will also take them to a liberal northeastern Iowa seat where Democrats are suddenly on defense, and to an upstate New York district not long ago seen as safe for the president’s party. Obama carried each district in 2012, in most cases handily; in the Hawaii district, he won 70 percent of the vote.

Republicans, who currently hold a 17-seat majority, are driving deep onto enemy turf just as Democrats have gone on the retreat. A late cash infusion from GOP-aligned groups has forced Democrats to pull resources from top offensive targets in order to buttress besieged incumbents, putting them almost entirely on defense. Of the 28 races seen as most seriously in contention, all but seven are held by Democrats.

Ebola missteps have shattered trust in hospital system, lawmakers say

Ebola missteps have shattered trust in hospital system, lawmakers say


The head of the CDC and a top doctor from Presbyterian come under sharp questioning from a House subcommittee.

Fumbles by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas have demolished CDC assurances that any hospital in America could effectively deal with an Ebola case, said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., the subcommittee chairman.

“CDC and our public health system are in the middle of a fire. Job One is to put it out completely,” Murphy said.

The subcommittee’s top Democrat, Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, echoed the concerns.

“It would be an understatement to say that the response to the first U.S.-based patient with Ebola has been mismanaged, causing risk to scores of additional people,” she said.

The questions on Capitol Hill about Presbyterian — and about U.S. hospitals in general — arose as Nina Pham, a Presbyterian nurse infected with the Ebola virus, was moved from Presbyterian to a National Institutes of Health clinic in Bethesda, Md. Pham, 26, was among those who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan of Liberia, who died of Ebola in the Dallas hospital on Oct. 8.

Clinton takes a shot at Romney

Clinton takes a shot at Romney


Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney are shown. | AP Photos

Hillary Clinton on Thursday in Michigan took a veiled swipe at Mitt Romney as she criticized those who would have “let Detroit go bankrupt” following the financial crisis in 2008.

On the stump for Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Gary Peters and gubernatorial hopeful Mark Schauer, Clinton said that the two stood up for Michigan in Congress.
“They could have lined up with those saying, ‘Let Detroit go bankrupt. Let manufacturing just wither away,’” Clinton said at the event at Oakland University in Rochester. “They could have been on the side of those who were criticizing what they called Government Motors.”

Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, wrote a November 2008 op-ed in The New York Times titled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” arguing against the government bailout of the auto industry. “If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye,” Romney said in his now-famous opening. Several critics of the bailout also derisively termed the emergency taxpayer ownership of GM in 2008 “Government Motors.”
The San Francisco Bay Guardian and the Decline of the Alt-Weekly

The San Francisco Bay Guardian and the Decline of the Alt-Weekly

By Vauhini Vara

On Wednesday morning, the seven-person editorial staff of the San Francisco Bay Guardian met around a table at the Muddy Waters Coffee House in the Mission. Marke Bieschke, the executive editor, arrived a couple of minutes late and pulled up a chair. “How is everyone feeling?” he said, sounding a little like a camp counselor at the end of his rope.

They weren’t feeling great. The previous morning, Glenn Zuehls, the head of the company that owns the Guardian, had assembled most of the editorial staff and made a jarring announcement: The next day’s Guardian—a special annual “Best of the Bay” issue—would be its last. The editorial staff members were to pack up their belongings and leave the building. Meanwhile, visitors to the Guardians Website were greeted with a white screen announcing that the paper had stopped publishing. All else had been scrubbed from the site—the paper’s archives, masthead, advertisements.


The demise of the Guardian isn’t an isolated event. Alt weeklies used to be vibrant and well-respected parts of the media ecosystem; they bred star journalists and covered local controversies that their more mainstream daily competitors were sometimes too timid to address. But prominent alt weeklies like the Boston Phoenix have shut down in recent years, while the Village Voice and other outlets have lost or laid off some of their best-known writers. One by one, independently owned publications, like the Baltimore City Paper, have sold themselves to bigger—and, often, much more conservative—media corporations.

Dallas County opts against declaring Ebola emergency

Dallas County opts against declaring Ebola emergency

The Commissioners Court decided Thursday afternoon to rely on written agreements with 75 health care workers potentially exposed to the virus that they will avoid public transportation and “public places.”

Those agreements will be voluntarily signed, but if some workers don’t agree, the county can issue court orders.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the director of the National Institutes of Health and the chief clinical officer at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas spent much of the day defending the response to the country’s first Ebola case during testimony before a U.S. House committee Thursday.

Why Germany Is So Much Better at Training Its Workers

Ina Fassbender/Reuters

Why Germany Is So Much Better at Training Its Workers 

Tamar Jacoby

America rarely uses an apprenticeship model to teach young people a trade. Could such a system help the unemployed?

At last, unemployment is easing. But the latest low rate—hovering below 6 percent–obscures a deeper, longer-term problem: “skills mismatches” in the labor force, which will only worsen in years to come. According to the most recent figures, 9.3 million Americans are unemployed, but 4.8 million jobs stand empty because employers can’t find people to fill them. With new technology transforming work across a range of sectors, more and more businesses are struggling to find workers with the skills to man new machines and manage new processes.

One solution has enchanted employers, educators, and policymakers on both sides of the aisle: European-style apprenticeship. The Obama administration is about to announce $100 million worth of apprenticeship grants—and wants to spend another $6 billion over the next four years. Meanwhile, lawmakers as different as Democratic Senator Cory Booker and Republican Senator Marco Rubio have expressed interest in the idea.

Americans should proceed with caution.


The U.S. has its own tradition of apprenticeship going back many years. But like most kinds of vocational education, it fell out of fashion in recent decades—a victim of our obsession with college and concern to avoid anything that resembles tracking. Today in America, fewer than 5 percent of young people train as apprentices, the overwhelming majority in the construction trades. In Germany, the number is closer to 60 percent—in fields as diverse as advanced manufacturing, IT, banking, and hospitality. And in Europe, what’s often called “dual training” is a highly respected career path.

"Dual training" captures the idea at the heart of every apprenticeship: Trainees split their days between classroom instruction at a vocational school and on-the-job time at a company. The theory they learn in class is reinforced by the practice at work. They also learn work habits and responsibility and, if all goes well, absorb the culture of the company. Trainees are paid for their time, including in class. The arrangement lasts for two to four years, depending on the sector. And both employer and employee generally hope it will lead to a permanent job—for employers, apprentices are a crucial talent pool.

The first thing you notice about German apprenticeships: The employer and the employee still respect practical work. German firms don’t view dual training as something for struggling students or at-risk youth. “This has nothing to do with corporate social responsibility,” an HR manager at Deutsche Bank told the group I was with, organized by an offshoot of the Goethe Institute. “I do this because I need talent.” So too at Bosch.

Nightmare at the Picasso Museum

Pablo Picasso, 1971

Nightmare at the Picasso Museum

Jonathan Jones

The greatest museum of Picasso’s works has been engulfed by scandal and crisis. Closed for the past five years, it is finally ready to reopen its doors to the public. But has the bitter struggle for Picasso’s legacy been resolved?

On 30 June 1972 Pablo Picasso created his last self-portrait. He had depicted himself many times before, but never like this. His face looked like a skull with stubble. Its colour was greenish-grey. The mouth was a straight slit. Only the lines under his eyes proved his features were flesh and not raw bone, which seems to protrude from his head at the left of the picture, where it is set against red fire, blood, or a setting sun.

From his youthful self-portraits to his bare-chested appearance, at the age of 75, in Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1956 film The Mystery of Picasso, the artist, so fit and long-lived, enjoyed showing off his muscular body. But in his last images of himself, the shoulders that were still so powerful when he displayed them in Clouzot’s adoring film had shrunk to the dried flatness of a mummy. This was his 91st year. Picasso looked at himself without illusions, underlining the true state of things with heavy black lines.

When friends came to visit he would show them the self-portrait of 30 June. It had pride of place on an easel apart from his routine clutter. He wanted to know how others saw it.

Picasso habitually studied his own works in this meditative way: his studio, and all his homes, were filled with his own artworks, going right back to juvenilia from his teenage years in Spain. He kept a bank vault in Paris, filled with paintings, prints, sculptures, and even poetry. But his self-portrait as a death’s head was something else; he kept goading friends to interpret it, insisting they gaze with him into its big terrifying eyes. This picture of a death foreseen was, for Picasso, “a mirror”, his friend and biographer John Richardson told me.

Less than a year after making it, he died, at home in Mougins in the south of France, on 8 April 1973. He was buried at the foot of Mont Sainte-Victoire in Provence, in a striking final homage to Cézanne – whose hesitant, searching paintings of this mountain did so much to inspire Picasso’s cubist revolution in the early years of the 20th century.

He was survived by his second wife, Jacqueline, as well as his “legitimate” son by his first marriage, Paulo, and Paulo’s three children, Pablito, Marina and Bernard. Then there was his former lover Marie-Thérèse Walter and their daughter Maya. And Françoise Gilot, the author of Life with Picasso, a merciless picture of an ageing artist lording it over his much younger lover, rich with embarrassing details of his habits and opinions – such as his insistence that one cannot be a real woman without becoming a mother. After failing to prevent its publication in 1964, Picasso tried to cut their children, Paloma and Claude, out of his life.

He also left 1,876 paintings, 1,335 sculptures, 7,089 standalone drawings, 18,000 prints, 2,880 ceramic pieces and 149 notebooks of drawings. It was the greatest collection of Picasso’s art in either private or public hands.

After his death, the vast personal collection that was discovered in his various studios and homes befuddled even his closest friends and most intimate students. No one had known the scale and substance of this private dimension to Picasso’s genius. It was not just the stupefying quantity of works he kept, but how and why he kept them, which had no equivalent in art.

Jerry-Jones Escapes

Jerry-Jones Escapes

By Robert Wilonsky

The lawsuit pitting Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones against a former stripper from Oklahoma is no more.

Two hearings scheduled for today in a lawsuit pitting former stripper Jana Weckerly against Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have been canceled after the case was settled “per mediator,” according to a note posted on the Dallas County website. Attorneys for Weckerly, who accused Jones of sexually assaulting her at a local hotel in 2009, and Jones say the suit was dismissed by the judge.

“We are pleased with the Court’s Judgment against Ms. Weckerly,” says Levi McCathern II, the attorney representing the Cowboys and Jones, in a brief statement sent to The Dallas Morning News. “Ms. Weckerly’s allegations were false. This case is over.”

Thomas Bowers, Weckerly’s attorney, says he and his client “do not contest the Judgment as entered by the Court. Neither Jerry Jones nor the Cowboys organization has paid us any money.”

The 27-year-old Weckerly of Ardmore, Okla., had been seeking more than $1 million in damages.

The attorneys were to meet in court today to argue over McCathern’s motion to dismiss the suit. Jones’ attorney, who has denied Weckerly’s allegations from the beginning, filed documents last week trying to get the case thrown out. Jones’ latest filing said Weckerly’s suit should have been “time-barred by the applicable statutes of limitations.” The motion to dismiss notes that Weckerly claims the assault took place in June 2009, but she waited until September 2014 to file suit.

McCathern has called the lawsuit nothing short of extortion, and one of the hearings scheduled for today involved a motion for sanctions against Weckerly for filing the “frivolous pleading for the purpose of harassment.” Weckerly’s attorney had maintained she was paid off by Jones and the Cowboys to keep quiet about the alleged event.

A Bold New Experimental Treatment for Alzheimer's Dementia

A Bold New Experimental Treatment for Alzheimer's Dementia

By Emily Deans, M.D. 

A dietary supplement called a ketone ester could possibly be the first truly effective treatment for Alzheimer's Dementia. A fascinating case study explains the science and the results.

Alzheimer’s Dementia is a neurodegenerative condition that affects five million Americans in 2014. In fact, a third of seniors will die with the disease or another type of dementia.

Auctioning Off the Judicial System

Auctioning Off the Judicial System

The money flooding into elections for judges' seat shows how dangerous unregulated campaigns can be.

By Norm Ornstein

Every once in a while, David Brooks writes a column in The New York Times that makes one just cringe. That was the case with his "Don't Worry, Be Happy" treatment last week of the impact of Citizens United on our politics. By defining the impact narrowly—does either party gain from the Supreme Court ruling and the new Wild West of campaign financing?—and by cherry-picking the research on campaign finance, Brooks comes up with a benign conclusion: Citizens United will actually reduce the influence of money in elections, and, I quote, "The upshot is that we should all relax about campaign spending."

Without mentioning his good friend's name, E.J. Dionne destroyed that case in his own Washington Post column. But a broader critique is necessary. First, Citizens United—and its progeny, SpeechNow and McCutcheon—are not really about whether Republicans get a leg up on election outcomes. They are about a new regime of campaign spending that dramatically enhances corruption in politics and government by forcing lawmakers to spend more and more of their precious time making fundraising calls, raising money for their own campaigns and their parties, and getting insurance against a last-minute blitz of "independent" spending that trashes them when they have no time to raise money to defend themselves. It also gives added traction to extreme groups threatening lawmakers with primary devastation unless they toe the ideological line.


Here is the reality: If judges fear multimillion-dollar campaigns against them, they will have to raise millions themselves, or quietly engineer campaigns by others to do so. Who will contribute, or lead those efforts? Of course, those who practice in front of the judges will, creating an unhealthy dynamic of gratitude and dependency. Worse, imagine what happens when judges are deciding cases in which the stakes are high, and well-heeled individuals or corporations will be helped or damaged by the rulings. The judges know that an adverse decision now will trigger a multimillion-dollar campaign against them the next time, both for retribution and to replace them with more friendly judges. Will that affect some rulings? Of course.

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