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In-N-Out Burger

The GOP hates the ‘lamestream media’ even more than you think.

The GOP hates the ‘lamestream media’ even more than you think.

When it comes to the outlets that the most conservative Americans get their news from, it's Fox News and everybody else.

And by everybody else, we mean mostly a bunch of other conservative-leaning media.

A new study from the Pew Research Center lays bare the increasing reliance on partisan and/or ideological news sources on the right and left, and both sides have trended in that direction. But when you compare the left to the right, it's clear which side is more interested in consuming news from sources with which it agrees politically.

Pew asked people which news sources they got their news from in the previous week. Among the most conservative Americans -- what Pew calls "consistent conservatives" -- five of the top six answers leaned to the right.

More than eight in 10 "consistent conservatives" said they had consumed news from Fox in the previous week (84 percent). Another 50 percent cited local news, while between 29 and 45 percent cited conservative commentators or their associated Web sites -- the radio shows of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and Beck's news site, The Blaze.

On the left, MSNBC doesn't carry near the same weight as Fox with "consistent liberals." Just 38 percent say they had consumed news from the liberal-leaning cable news outlet. These Americans have more mainstream tastes, consuming news from NPR (53 percent), CNN (52 percent), local TV (39 percent), NBC News and PBS (37 percent apiece), the BBC (34 percent), ABC News and the New York Times (33 percent apiece).

The only other outlet approaching the kind of ideological, commentator-driven news of the Hannitys, the Becks and the Limbaughs on the left is the Daily Show, which 34 percent of "consistent liberals" cited as a news source they had tapped in in the past week. And while the Daily Show certainly has a liberal-leaning point of view, its express purpose is entertainment -- not news.

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When School Is Harder to Get Into Than the U.S.

When School Is Harder to Get Into Than the U.S.

By BENJAMIN MUELLER

Despite state and federal guidelines, Long Island districts are requiring documents that are often difficult for families to obtain, forcing immigrant children to stay at home.

Before dawn breaks and the morning light spills onto his bedroom floor, Carlos Garcia Lobo bounces out of bed, his eyes alight with anticipation, and asks his mother if he can go to school.

Each time, she replies to her 8-year-old son: Not yet.

Four months after fleeing Honduras with a 15-year-old cousin, Carlos has reached what his family said seemed like an impassable frontier. Like dozens of the roughly 2,500 unaccompanied immigrant children who have been released to relatives or other sponsors on Long Island so far this year, Carlos has been unable to register for school.

The impasse has baffled parents, who say their scant resources have proved no match for school district bureaucracies. Required by law to attend school, children are nevertheless stuck at home, despite unrelenting efforts by their parents and others to prove that they are eligible. Suffolk and Nassau Counties, on Long Island, rank third and fifth, respectively, in the United States, after counties centered on Houston and Los Angeles, in the number of unaccompanied minors they have absorbed so far this year; Miami-Dade County is fourth.

Many of the children are barred because their families cannot gather the documents that schools require to prove they are residents of the district or have guardianship — obstacles that contravene legal guidance on enrollment procedures the State Education Department issued in September. Concern over similar deterrents across the country prompted Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in May to chide districts for “raising barriers for undocumented children,” thereby violating a 1982 Supreme Court decision that guarantees their right to an education.

Driven from Honduras by gangs that brandished machetes and robbed his grandmother’s home, Carlos trekked to the border in June with his cousin and a guide, bumping along on buses “all day and night,” he recalled.

On July 10, Carlos joined his mother, Yeinni Lobo, who came to the United States when he was 11 months old. Since he arrived, Ms. Lobo says she has visited the local school office at least 10 times, toting a stack of immunization records. She provided her address, and the name of the fellow tenant who collects her rent, to show that she lived in the district, she said. But the school demanded a statement from the home’s absentee owner.

So as Carlos tries to decode the schoolwork his older cousins bring home, Ms. Lobo gets an education in red tape. She found her homeowner’s Bronx address on property records at a nearby courthouse. A letter she sent pleading for help soon dropped back through her mail slot, marked “Return to Sender.” Carlos’s official manila file folder is affixed with a neon green Post-it reading, “Waiting for owner’s affidavit.” Once, a school secretary suggested that Ms. Lobo fix the problem by moving to a different home. In the school parking lot, she says, she and other mothers cry over the lost weeks.

“They are not giving us a solution,” Ms. Lobo said. “I’m worried because he’s getting behind.”

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Where There’s Trouble, You’ll Usually Find Joe Biden

Where There’s Trouble, You’ll Usually Find Joe Biden

Lloyd Green

His crisis-creating malapropisms and his son’s drug-related discharge from the Navy are just the beginning. This guy’s a train wreck.

According to the polls, Joe Biden doesn’t have a prayer in 2016. And according to former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Biden “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” 

But two things are also certain: First, Biden is still Barack Obama’s go-to-guy when partisan loyalty is at a premium. Faced with rising concern and criticism over the outbreak of Ebola, Obama tapped Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff, to be America’s Ebola czar. Second, Biden’s friends and family have not hesitated to profit from their ties to the Vice President. Biden’s brother, James, and his son, Hunter, have cashed in on the family name, whether it be in Iraq or Ukraine. Biden may have the mien of the crazy uncle in the basement, but he is also a real reminder of what is wrong with politics.

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Why House Republicans Alienate Hispanics: They Don’t Need Them

 

Why House Republicans Alienate Hispanics: They Don’t Need Them

Political analysts keep urging the Republican Party to do more to appeal to Hispanic voters. Yet the party’s congressional leaders show little sign of doing so, blocking an immigration overhaul and harshly criticizing President Obama for his plan to defer deportation for undocumented migrants.

There’s a simple reason that congressional Republicans are willing to risk alienating Hispanics: They don’t need their votes, at least not this year.

Republicans would probably hold the House — and still have a real chance to retake the Senate — if they lost every single Hispanic voter in the country, according to an analysis by The Upshot.

Such a thing would never happen, of course, but the fact that the Republicans may not need a single Hispanic vote in 2014 says a good deal about American politics today.

The fact that the Republican House majority does not depend on Hispanic voters helps explain why immigration reform has not become law, even though national Republican strategists believe the party needs additional support among Hispanic voters to compete in presidential elections. It’s true that Republicans would stand little, if any, chance of winning the presidency in 2016 if they lost every Hispanic voter. If anything, the Republicans probably need to make gains among Hispanic voters to compete in states like Florida and Nevada.

But Congressional elections are different. Although the young, urban and racially diverse Democratic coalition has won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, that coalition has not delivered House control to the Democrats. Gerrymandering isn’t the only cause, either. It’s the way the population is distributed.

Even a situation in which every Latino voter in America chose the Democratic candidate would mainly allow Democrats to fare better in the heavily Hispanic districts where the party already wins. This is already occurring, to a lesser degree. Over the last decade, Democratic gains among young and nonwhite voters have allowed Democrats to win a majority of the House vote without flipping enough districts to earn a majority of seats.

The Upshot analysis found that if not one of the eight million Hispanic voters supported the Republican candidate, Republicans would lose about a dozen House seats, especially in Florida and California. The loss of those seats would make the Republican House majority more vulnerable if Democrats made gains elsewhere in future years. But given the Republicans’ current strength across rural areas and in conservative suburbs, the loss of every Hispanic every voter would not be enough to cost them the 17 seats that would flip House control.

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Pistorius Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison

Oscar Pistorius held the hands of family members after being sentenced to five years in prison.

Credit Pool photo by Herman Verwey

Pistorius Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison

By ALAN COWELL

Oscar Pistorius, the South African track star found guilty of culpable homicide in the death of his girlfriend, is expected to serve only 10 months before being put on house arrest.

With a judge seeking to strike a balance between mercy and retribution, Oscar Pistorius, the South African track star, was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The athlete’s defense team said the law under which he was punished calls for him to serve only one-sixth of the prison term — 10 months — before he can be placed on house arrest. He was also given a suspended three-year term on separate firearms charges.

But some South African legal experts said the conversion of prison time to house arrest was not automatic and required negotiations with the correctional authorities. After serving half the sentence, Mr. Pistorius can also apply for parole.

Ms. Steenkamp’s family said it was “satisfied” with the ruling, although the National Prosecuting Authority said it had not yet decided whether to appeal.

“I’m just glad it’s over,” June Steenkamp, the victim’s mother, told reporters outside the courtroom.

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Apple sells nearly 40m iPhones in three months of year 'for the record books'

Tim Cook

Apple sells nearly 40m iPhones in three months of year 'for the record books'

Dominic Rushe in New York

CEO Tim Cook says company is ‘selling everything we’ve made’ even as it prepares for crucial holiday shopping period.

Apple sold a record 39.3m iPhones in the last three months, the company said on Monday, helping the tech giant win its highest revenues of the year.

Entering the Christmas shopping season, its strongest sales period of the year, Apple predicted its latest iPhones would help boost sales by at least 10% during the crucial holiday quarter.

Overall, the company’s profit rose more than 12% from a year ago, to $8.5bn. Total sales also rose more than 12%, to $42.1bn.

The one blemish on Apple’s quarter came from iPad sales, which slipped 13% compared to the same period last year, the third quarter in a row that sales of the tablets have fallen.

“Our fiscal 2014 was one for the record books, including the biggest iPhone launch ever with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus,” Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive said. “With amazing innovations in our new iPhones, iPads and Macs, as well as iOS 8 and OSX Yosemite, we are heading into the holidays with Apple’s strongest product lineup ever. We are also incredibly excited about Apple Watch and other great products and services in the pipeline for 2015.”

Demand for the new iPhones “has been staggering”, said Cook. “At this point we are selling everything we’ve made.”

The company ended the year with $155.2bn in cash and marketable securities. Revenues at Apple’s retail rose 15% to $5.1bn. Apple is planning to open 25 new stores in fiscal year 2015. Most will be outside the US.

 
Lewinsky: how I was cyberbullied

Lewinsky: how I was cyberbullied

Monica Lewinsky said her sense of self was destroyed by the publicity surrounding her affair with Bill Clinton.

White House intern during Clinton's first term says torment over affair reduced her to 'creature from the media lagoon'

Monica Lewinsky, the one-time White House intern whose affair with Bill Clinton in the 1990s nearly brought down his presidency, has described herself as one of the first victims of cyberbullying and vowed to help others survive the “shame game” of public humiliation.

In a rare public appearance Lewinsky spoke at Forbes’ inaugural 30 Under 30 summit in Philadelphia, saying her depiction in the media – as a constant punchline for late-night comedians and fuel for internet gossip – destroyed her sense of self.

“That’s what happened to me in 1998 when public Monica, that Monica, that woman was born, the creature from the media lagoon. I lost my reputation. I was publicly identified as someone I didn’t recognise,” she said.

“And I lost my sense of self – lost it or had it stolen, because in a way it was a form of identity theft.”

 
Dallas celebrates ‘a joyous day’ in the battle against Ebola

Dallas celebrates ‘a joyous day’ in the battle against Ebola

By MATTHEW WATKINS AND SHERRY JACOBSON

Fifty-one people thought to be at risk have been cleared. But other hurdles remain, says Mayor Mike Rawlings.

After three weeks of Ebola fear and tumult, Dallas County took a step back toward normal Monday.

The emergency room where Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan was treated returned to regular operations. And 51 people considered at risk for the virus have been released from county monitoring after 21 days. That’s the longest it has taken someone to develop symptoms of the disease after being exposed to someone actively ill.

Still, North Texas is far from being in the clear. Two nurses who cared for Duncan are fighting the virus in out-of-state hospitals. And 116 people continue to be monitored to make sure they don’t come down with the disease.

“Today is a milestone day — a hurdle we needed to clear,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said. But, he quickly added, “there are other hurdles we need to jump.”

The next big milestone is “the magic date” when health officials will be able to declare Dallas completely free of Ebola, Rawlings said. If no one else falls ill — which would trigger another round of contact tracing and another 21-day clock to watch for symptoms — that day will be Nov. 7.

Local leaders called Monday a joyous day. Gov. Rick Perry said the state welcomed “with guarded optimism” the news that dozens of people who had come into contact with Duncan had not developed Ebola.

“Continuous vigilance in confronting this threat and the cooperation of those affected is what brought us to this point,” Perry said, “and we look forward to the day when the remaining individuals can be removed from active monitoring.”

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Evangelicals road test 2016 strategy

Ralph Reed speaks. | AP Photo

Evangelicals road test 2016 strategy

By ANNA PALMER

The evangelical movement wants to be back on top of national politics, and to do it it’s borrowing from an unlikely playbook — Barack Obama’s.

Groups like Faith and Freedom Coalition and Susan B. Anthony’s List are beefing up their grass-roots efforts this year, turning to strategies more often embraced by President Obama than the Christian right, like using online data and micro-targeting to reach or visit hundreds of thousands of voters in key counties in states like Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — states that will determine whether Republicans gain a majority in the Senate.

The evangelical movement finds itself at a crossroads: Regain relevancy in 2014 after a tough year in 2012 or face an even tougher fight in the next presidential election, when, it fears, Hillary Clinton will be at the top of the ticket, galvanizing liberals all the way down the ballot.

“The 2014 midterms are a crucial test of evangelical influence and strength,” said Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “I think most evangelical leaders understand we are in a period of pretty radical transition in this society.”

Leaders in the evangelical movement understand that public opinion on social issues has changed dramatically since 2000, when the movement helped buoy George W. Bush to the White House and again in 2004. Opposition to gay marriage, once a hot-button ballot initiative to drive voters to the polls, has faded drastically. Meanwhile, only one in 10 young adults identifies as evangelical. And greater acceptance of birth control, premarital sex and cohabitation before marriage has created a cultural distance with the church.

“There are these tectonic shifts that are occurring that are going to be important in 2016 and beyond,” said Dan Cox, research director at the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute. “There is sort of a real demographic and cultural challenge.”

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How LBJ and Reagan Wrecked Our Idealism

By Scott Porch

In the mid-’60s polar opposites Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan promised America more than they could possibly deliver. The result was decades of cynicism about government.

Lyndon Johnson, who had been president for one year and was nearing the pinnacle of his popularity, crushed Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater by 16 million votes, at that time the largest margin ever in a presidential election. At a rally in Pittsburgh a week before the election, Johnson laid out an ambitious, transformative vision for the United States.

“So here is the Great Society,” Johnson said. “It’s the time—and it’s going to be soonwhen nobody in this country is poor.” Elimination of poverty. “It’s going to be the time… when we have a job for everyone who is willing to work.” Full employment. “It’s the time when every false distinction—of what your race is, or your creed is, or your sex, or how you spell your name, or where your folks came from, or how you pray—it’s going to be a time when none of that makes any difference.” The end of all discrimination.

Johnson promised all the education one could absorb. He promised social security with meaning and purpose and pleasure. He promised every slum would be cleaned up. Johnson didn’t just promise a chicken in every pot. He promised a utopian America where society’s biggest, most vexing, most entrenched problems would disappear. That chicken was going to be freakin’ amazing.

Later on the same day that Johnson delivered his Pittsburgh speech, a 53-year-old TV actor and one-time B-list film star named Ronald Reagan gave a closing argument for Goldwater, a paid endorsement entitled A Time for Choosing. The televised speech was an oogedy-boogedy list of horrors wrought by government—too much federal debt, the dollar just isn’t worth what it was in 1939, wasteful spending on welfare programs, etc.—and loaded up with statistics that Reagan read from index cards. Millions of people watched it live. Goldwater still got demolished in the election, sure, but A Time for Choosing raised Reagan’s profile considerably and made him a conservative star.

Two years later, Johnson would be a deeply unpopular president, and the Democrats would lose 47 seats (though not the majority) in the House of Representatives. Reagan would be elected governor of California and become a serious contender to challenge Johnson for the presidency in 1968 (though neither would wind up running in that election).

Jonathan Darman’s Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of a New America, a new history of the seismic leftward and then rightward shift in national politics during the three years after the Kennedy assassination, is a dual narrative of Johnson and Reagan during those years.

Darman argues that Johnson and Reagan preached competing visions of a utopian America—for Johnson a government-led social reformation, for Reagan an idyllic society guided by the invisible hand of free enterprise—and neither delivered, fostering a cynical view of the United States government that persists 50 years later.

“Each of the myths discredited government,” Darman writes. “Reagan’s did it overtly, maintaining that government was the source of America’s problems. Johnson’s did it by example, making promises for government that it could not possibly fulfill. As a result, a generation of Americans has come of age with little faith in government’s ability to do much of anything.”

141020-porch-landslide-embed

The conventional wisdom has long been that Johnson’s presidency was undone by a combination of Vietnam, civil unrest, and liberal overreach, and that Republicans like Reagan provided a smaller-government, more self-reliant, more optimistic alternative. Landslide makes clear that escalation in Vietnam was the major reason for Johnson’s flagging popularity and that the 1966 elections were a referendum on Johnson and the Democrats’ management of the Vietnam War much more so than a choice between Democrats’ and Republicans’ competing visions for the country. Reagan ran a storied campaign for governor of California in 1966, sure, but he benefitted enormously from a national wave of anti-Johnson sentiment.

“Reagan is a difficult biographical subject,” Darman acknowledged when I interviewed him recently. “Even the people closest to him talk about what a self-contained person he was, that he didn’t share a lot of what was going on inside him. So you have that combined with the perennial optimism of Reagan combined with the actor’s need to not show any effort. It’s hard to go back and find some of the human moments that you would with another subject because he doesn’t show them as easily.”

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In Raising Immigration, G.O.P. Risks Backlash After Election

In Raising Immigration, G.O.P. Risks Backlash After Election

New Hampshire has one of the smallest populations of illegal immigrants in the country. Only about 5 percent of its 1.3 million residents are foreign-born, and 3 percent are Hispanic.

But tune into the Senate race between Scott P. Brown, the Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, the Democratic incumbent, and you might think the state shares a border with Mexico, not Canada.

When someone called a talk radio show to ask Mr. Brown about global warming the other day, Mr. Brown immediately started talking about border security. “Let me tell you what I believe is a clear and present danger right now,” he said, brushing aside the caller’s concerns about the environment. “I believe that our border is porous.”

Footage of agents patrolling the rocky, arid Southwestern landscape is featured in Mr. Brown’s ads — not quite the piney highlands of New Hampshire.

A political group led by prominent conservatives like John R. Bolton, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations, attacked Ms. Shaheen last week with a video that juxtaposed two alarming images: a horde of people rushing a fence, presumably along the Mexican border, and a clip of Islamic militants right before they beheaded the journalist James Foley, a New Hampshire native. The ad was pulled after the Foley family complained.

Republicans have long relied on illegal immigration to rally the conservative base, even if the threat seemed more theoretical than tangible in most of the country. But in several of this year’s midterm Senate campaigns — including Arkansas and Kansas, as well as New Hampshire — Republicans’ stance on immigration is posing difficult questions about what the party wants to be in the longer term.

Some Republicans are questioning the cost of their focus on immigration. Campaigning on possible threats from undocumented immigrants — similar to claims that President Obama and the Democrats have left the country vulnerable to attacks from Islamic terrorists and the Ebola virus — may backfire after November. At that point, the party will have to start worrying about its appeal beyond the conservative voters it needs to turn out in midterm elections.

“You should never underestimate the ability of the Republicans to screw something up and blow an ideal opportunity,” said Ralph Reed, an influential conservative who has battled with hard-line Republicans to take a more charitable view on immigration.

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Kasich: Repeal ACA, but not all of it

Kasich: Repeal ACA, but not all of it

By SARAH WHEATON

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is pictured. | AP Photo

Ohio Gov. John Kasich wants to be very clear: He wants to repeal Obamacare.

Just not the part he likes.

A political firestorm broke out Monday when the The Associated Press quoted Kasich as saying that Obamacare repeal was “not gonna happen.” That view is almost unheard of — at least in public — among most Republicans, let alone those who might run for the White House in 2016.

Kasich said AP got it wrong, and he called POLITICO Monday night to correct the record. He said he was talking specifically about repeal of the expansion of Medicaid — which Ohio has implemented — and not of the Affordable Care Act more broadly.

“From Day One, and up until today and into tomorrow, I do not support Obamacare,” the Republican governor said on Monday evening. “I never have, and I believe it should be repealed.”

Except for the Medicaid expansion part — which wouldn’t exist without the law. Kasich thinks there ought to be a way to save it.

“I have favored expanding Medicaid, but I don’t really see expanding Medicaid as really connected to Obamacare,” he said.

If Republicans take the Senate, Kasich said, “you better believe they’re gonna repeal Obamacare and I agree with that.” But, he added, “there’s got to be an accommodation” for Medicaid expansion.

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She Tweeted Against the Mexican Cartels. They Tweeted Her Murder.

She Tweeted Against the Mexican Cartels. They Tweeted Her Murder.

No newspaper dares to publish the truth about the drug lords in Tamaulipas, Mexico, and those who break the silence on Twitter and Facebook are marked for death.

MEXICO CITY, Mexico — She was a crusading Twitter journalist in a bastion of organized crime who chose a photograph of Catwoman as her online avatar and christened herself Felina. Like a comic-book avenger, her alter ego defied the forces of evil in her real-life Gotham of Reynosa, a border city in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas located a short drive from McAllen, Texas. Tamaulipas is notorious as a state caught in the iron grip of organized crime. Extortion, kidnappings, shootouts, arson, bodies excavated from arid pits, all of this happens in Tamaulipas, practically on a daily basis, but hardly any of it gets reported because of a media blackout the cartels decreed four years ago that is as strictly enforced as martial law after a coup.

Two rival drug cartels in Tamaulipas, the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, have final say over what gets printed or broadcast in the local media. By necessity the people of the state increasingly have turned to social media to share information about organized crime and its infiltration of the government. They are referred to as citizen journalists and have received international attention for their innovative use of sites like Facebook and Twitter to defy the imposition of the blackout.

Felina was an administrator for Valor por Tamaulipas (which means Courage for Tamaulipas), the most popular citizen news hubs in the state, with over 100,000 followers on Twitter and over half a million on Facebook. A sampling of the site’s content varies from the sensational to the specific. There are photos of young teenagers holding military-grade firepower with captions or comments that identify them as members of organized crime. There are posters of missing persons and news alerts about violence that are timely and specific: “At 10am there were isolated gunshots heard coming from Unidad Obrera”; “Since 12:25a.m. Explosions and machine gun fire at Cañada/Fuentes, and pickup trucks passed at high speed on 20th Street”; “In Balcones sector 2 white Ford pickup with 3 armed Men on Everest Street and Seventh.” Soldiers at the Mexican army base in Reynosa also post news alerts to the site about violent confrontations between the army and the narcos.

Felina posted under the handle @Miut3 and was best known for her posts of danger alerts that pinpointed the location of violent incidents in real time. People sent her bits of information as a way for them to resist the hegemony of the cartels. She also wrote posts pleading with victims of crime not to remain silent, to file a police report even if it meant having to brave reprisals. She would post emergency telephone numbers as a way to try to help.

Understandably the narcos wanted to know the real identities of Felina and her compañeros at Valor por Tamaulipas. A year and a half ago a cartel had hundreds of leaflets distributed throughout Tamaulipas offering a reward of 600,000 pesos (about $48,000 at the time) for anyone who would divulge the names of the site’s administrators. At around the same time there were videos posted online of executions of individuals alleged to be contributors to the site. The founder shut it down and left the state, hoping that time away would diminish the danger. But when Valor por Tamaulipas went back online the situation only intensified: the number of followers to the site quadrupled and the threats resumed.

On October 8, Valor por Tamaulipas received the following tweet: “We’re coming very close to many of you watch out felina.” The sender’s account was a shell but the message had the feel of authenticity. It was one in a series of posts that arrived on the same day. Each had an exasperated tone, demanding to know why the supposed generosity of the narcos toward people of low income went unreported, and why the focus on the Gulf Cartel but nothing on the crimes of soldiers and police? The concluding message defamed the site’s administrators as liars and threatened war on each of them by name, or at least by handle: “This is for you bandolera, felina, valor and all the rest who make things up.”

The founder of Valor por Tamaulipas, whose identity remains unpublished, said the need for secrecy had become greater than ever before. But he said Felina could not be convinced to alter her behavior to account for the increased danger. In a post on the site the founder described her as someone “who moved heaven and earth” for anyone in need. Her activity as a citizen journalist had fed into a larger vision of building a supportive community in Tamaulipas. She raised money; she organized blood donations, and helped people find affordable housing and free medical care. She listened but did not heed warnings from her peers that by raising her public profile in the community she risked being discovered. The founder removed Felina as an administrator after one last argument about helping someone in need of orthopedic shoes.

Felina nevertheless continued to post a high volume of news alerts to the site at the hashtag #ReynosaFollow. Until early in the morning of Thursday, October 16, when this message from Felina @Miut3 was posted:

# reynosafollow FRIENDS AND FAMILY, MY REAL NAME IS MARÍA DEL ROSARIO FUENTES RUBIO. I AM A PHYSICIAN. TODAY MY LIFE HAS COME TO AN END.

The next message, sent moments later, is supposedly her warning friends and family not to make the same mistake she did, using social media to report on organized crime, because “there is no point.” The message after that is a warning to her followers and to three prominent citizen journalists that the cartels “are closer to us than you think.” The last message sent from Felina’s account is not written but rather consists of two photos: in the first, a middle-aged woman keeps her hands folded in front of her and looks directly at the camera; in the second the same woman is lying on a dirty floor with a coup de grace bullet wound in the face. The founder of Valor por Tamaulipas confirmed that the photos are of Felina. Twitter has since shut down her account.

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Dana Milbank: Obama, the pariah president

Obama, the pariah president

They were fired up and ready to go home.

Democrats left nothing to chance for President Obama’s first campaign rally of the 2014 election season Sunday evening. They arranged for him to speak in Prince George’s County, Md., which went 90 percent for Obama in 2012. They put him in the gymnasium of a middle school that shared a campus with Barack Obama Elementary School, which explains the “We Rock at Barack” sweatshirts in the crowd. Some 90 percent of those in the audience were African American — a demographic that still supports Obama to the tune of 84 percent, vs. 30 percent of white Americans.

The man Obama was stumping for — Maryland gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown — has a healthy lead over his Republican opponent in reliably Democratic Maryland and therefore had little worry about sharing a stage with Obama. Even so, they left the presidential seal off the lectern, and Obama remained hidden offstage while Brown addressed the crowd.

Yet for all those precautions, Obama’s rare campaign appearance did not go as planned — and not only because a man heckled him for his refusal to block more deportations. With about five minutes to go in his 25-minute speech, about the time Obama said, “I’m just telling you what you already know,” people began to trickle out. By the time he had finished, perhaps a few hundred had walked out on the president.

This exodus wasn’t intended as a protest. Long lines for shuttles taking attendees to remote parking sites induced participants to leave early so they could beat the rush. But the overall effect was akin to what happens when baseball fans begins filtering out in the seventh inning because the home team is down by five runs. And, in a way, that is what’s going on in these midterm elections.

Obama is President Pariah in these final weeks of the 2014 midterms. Vulnerable Democratic candidates don’t want to be seen with him. Three Democratic senators have run ads distancing themselves from him, and Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic Senate candidate in Kentucky, has refused — absurdly — to say whether she voted for Obama. Obama’s support is 40 percent nationally and lower in the Republican states where many of this year’s competitive races are taking place.

 
The English Solution to America's Grade-Inflation Problem

The English Solution to America's Grade-Inflation Problem

The UK takes an entirely different approach to grading curves, and it's working.

By Heidi Tworek

At the beginning of this school year, Princeton University changed its contentious grading policy. The university had previously limited the number of students who could receive A grades, but rescinded for a variety of reasons, including fears that the lower GPAs disadvantaged Princeton students on the job market and discouraged the top students from applying to the university in the first place.

Grading can feel like the cruelest part of the semester for teachers and students alike. And no one seems to have quite gotten it right. Commentary on grading brings to mind the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Like the porridge that is too hot or too cold or the bed that is too big or too small, grading policies are either too lenient or too harsh. Top U.S. universities have come under fire in recent years for grade inflation. A grades have been the most common grade at Harvard for 20 years, and the median grade there today is an A-. There’s even a website that has tracked grade inflation in American schools and universities over time.

On the other end of the scale, France is currently figuring out how to reform a high school system that gives out overly punitive grades. A 16 out of 20 on a baccalauréat exam is currently an exceptionally high result.

 
Ex-Nazis Collecting Social Security

Ex-Nazis Collecting Social Security

 Adam Chandler

A group reportedly received millions in benefits even after being expelled from the U.S.

On Monday, an exhaustive two-year Associated Press investigation concluded in which it was determined that dozens of former Nazis collectively received millions of dollars in Social Security benefits from the United States. Worse yet, according to the report, once these former Nazis were discovered, payments continued after they were expelled from the country in a bid to encourage them to leave the United States peacefully.

"Since 1979," the AP analysis found, "at least 38 of 66 suspects removed from the country kept their Social Security benefits," the report read. These weren't lightweights either. Suspected activities of the recipients range from participation in the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto to the use of slave labor and the round-up and killing of thousands of Jews. At least four of these men are said to still be alive and receiving money from American taxpayers.

 
Toys R Us Breaking Bad dolls: the must-have Christmas toy for your kids?

Walter and Jesse Breaking Bad dolls … ‘intended for 15 and up’

Toys R Us Breaking Bad dolls: the must-have Christmas toy for your kids?

Walter White figurine comes with tiny bag of crystal meth, as ‘shocked and appalled’ Florida woman starts petition to get them removed from shelves

 A Walter White Breaking Bad doll, complete with gun and meth.

The Walter White figurine comes packaged with a duffle bag filled with presumably pre-laundered non-sequential banknotes and a tiny bag of (fake) crystal meth, while the Jesse Pinkman figure sports a gas mask, teaching children an important lesson about the dangers of inhaling the noxious byproducts of the methamphetamine production process.

 
Do Democrats want to fix inequality? Or just complain about it?

elizabeth warren campaign trail

Do Democrats want to fix inequality? Or just complain about it?

Alexis Goldstein

If progressives think they’ve got any chance at midterm victory, it’s time to focus on dramatic solutions for young and minority voters – before it’s too late.

On Friday, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen warned that “income and wealth inequality are near their highest levels in the past hundred years”. On Saturday, Senator Elizabeth Warren called for federal student loan refinancing, and declared: “The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it.” On Sunday, along with a secret memo that threatened “crushing” defeats, there was the headline on the front page of the New York Times: “Black Vote Seen as Last Hope for Democrats to Hold Senate”.

Inequality: it’s all anybody can talk about ... except Democrats on the campaign trail who, with two weeks before Election Day, desperately need to turn out the very people so disproportionately affected by it – young and minority voters.

Sure, the teacher-backed Super-Pacs are hitting Republicans from Arkansas and North Carolina to Hawaii and back again for wanting to “shut down” public education. Yes, ignoring affordable housing is the stuff attack ads are made of.

But housing and education are issues of inequality that have solutions, not just stump-speech lines or YouTube-ready complaints. And if Democrats have any hope left in the midterms, they cannot be this shamefully muted on bold progressive policies policies that could dramatically improve the lives of voters who just happen to hold the keys to a majority of the United States Senate.

Barack Obama’s neglect on foreclosure has been well-documented. The housing crisis turned countless former homeowners into renters and, now, into would-be voters in dire straits. More than four in 10 of very low-income US households have no access to subsidized housing, and are instead paying more than 50% of their income in rent, living in horrific conditions or both. We have about as much public housing today as we did in the mid-1970s, losing 10,000 units per year, even though the US population is now 47% bigger.

 
Rand Paul: The Most Interesting Conspiracy Theorist in Washington

Rand Paul: The Most Interesting Conspiracy Theorist in Washington

By David Corn

Bilderbergers, the Iraq invasion, Alex Jones—the GOP senator has routinely flirted with America's paranoid fringe

This past summer, Rand Paul, the libertarian senator from Kentucky and a potential 2016 presidential wannabe, was the GOP's It Girl. The New York Times Magazine splashed his mug on the cover and asked, "Has the 'Libertarian Moment' Finally Arrived?" It noted that Paul possessed a "supple mind" and was a "preternaturally confident speaker." Washington Post political prognosticator Chris Cillizza pronounced Paul the "most interesting voice in the GOP right now," and Politico gave him the No. 1 spot on its list of the 50 "most important people changing American politics through the power of ideas." When Paul, an ophthalmologist, trekked to Guatemala as part of a group of doctors providing free care to indigent patients, he was accompanied by a documentary crew, two political ad makers, and reporters from the Post and NBC News. And last week, Time magazine ran a cover story on Paul, anointing him, "The Most Interesting Man in Politics."

As this government-bashing tea partier moves toward a White House bid, journalists scrutinize his every wiggle and whisper. But one core component of his political personality has largely escaped exploration: The senator is close to being a full-blown conspiracy theorist.

 
Why a White House shake-up won't work for Obama

Why a White House shake-up won't work for Obama

By Brian Hughes 

Even though much of Washington wants President Obama to shake up his White House team, it likely won’t change the path of his final two years in office.

 

Given the late timing of the announcement, the already extensive turnover in his Cabinet and hardened perceptions of his presidency, Obama would see little political uptick from overhauling his team of advisers, analysts said.

 

As recent presidential history has proved, successful shake-ups usually come in the wake of a specific scandal or involve so much star power that they’re impossible to ignore.

 

Obama’s issues, presidential historians contend, cut far deeper and cannot be alleviated simply by tinkering with policies that have defined his six years in office.

 

“The problems are Obama’s, not his chief of staff’s,” said Stephen Hess, a former adviser to Presidents Ford and Carter. “When you bring in somebody of a lesser stature, you’re just moving chairs around on the deck of the Titanic.”

 

 
Ebola has exposed America's fear, and Barack Obama's vulnerability

A clean-up in Dallas, Texas, after a suspected Ebola case

Ebola has exposed America's fear, and Barack Obama's vulnerability

Gary Younge

Gary Younge

The virus is a metaphor for all that conservatives loathe, and sees the president's policies under renewed attack

n a column ostensibly explaining why moderates struggle in the Republican party, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen last year wrote: “People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York – a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts – but not all – of America.”

If the thought of New York’s first family’s interracial marriage makes many Republicans (and apparently Cohen) gag, imagine how many sick bags they are filling over Ebola. The arrival of the virus in America has crystallised a range of Conservative anxieties: immigration, race, terrorism, science, big government, Barack Obama – you name it. For the right, Ebola is not just a disease, it is a metaphor for some of the things they don’t understand and many of the things they loathe.

Conservative eminence grise Phyllis Schlafly believes Obama is allowing it into the country deliberately. “Obama doesn’t want America to believe that we’re exceptional,” she said. “He wants us to be just like everybody else, and if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too.” Rightwing radio host Rush Limbaugh claims liberals won’t impose a travel ban from infected areas because Ebola is “payback” for slavery.

The roots of this fear-mongering are deep, and when Ebola finally landed it fell on fertile soil. First, it came from abroad – a place that many Conservatives are both afraid of and resent. Republicans are the most likely to be against immigration, for bombing Isis, to believe that America’s global power is declining, and to fear globalisation. They’ve wanted to build a huge wall on the Mexican border for years. Ebola breaking out on the other side of the globe has simply added to their siege mentality. “Ladies and gentlemen,” Republican senate candidate for North Carolina Thom Tillis said in a debate recently. “We have an Ebola outbreak, we have bad actors who can come across the border. We need to seal the border and secure it.” South Carolina congressman Joe Wilson last week warned that Hamas might deliberately bring Ebola sufferers into the US through Mexico illegally. You couldn’t make it up; you wouldn’t know where to start. There have been three confirmed cases of Ebola in the US and none in Mexico – if anyone should be sealing the border to protect themselves from the virus it should be the Mexicans keeping Americans out.

 
Google removes results linking to stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence nude

jennifer lawrence

Google removes results linking to stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence nude

Samuel Gibbs

Links to sites hosting the hacked photos have started to be removed by Google after copyright takedown requests filed by Lawrence’s lawyers.

Google has removed two links to a site hosting stolen nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence after requests by the actor’s lawyers.

The takedown requests were filed under the digital millennium copyright act (DMCA), with her lawyers Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp stating that the stolen photos impinged on Lawrence’s copyright.

The DMCA, which governs the use of copyrighted material and is usually used in reference to pirated TV shows, films and music, requires sites to “expeditiously” remove unlawful images from their servers.

The site removed from Google’s search results has since changed its domain, which has caused the site to be re-indexed by Google and reappear in search results under the different website address. The takedown notice did not list the new domain, requiring another request to be filed to remove it from the search results.

The site hosting the photos targeted by Lawrence’s lawyers claims that it will take down the stolen photos if requested.

 
Detroit's Lesson for the CDC and Big Government

Detroit's Lesson for the CDC and Big Government

By Washington Examiner

The city of Detroit agreed this week to raze the Joe Louis Arena, the home of the Red Wings hockey team, and hand the land over to one of its corporate creditors in order to satisfy a small portion of a $1 billion debt.

The move brings the Motor City closer to resolving its June 23, 2013 bankruptcy filing. The settlement will leave creditors with pennies on the dollar and retired public employees with only about half of what they were promised.

Municipal bankruptcy was the only way for Detroit, which until recently ran annual deficits as high as $380 million, to discharge its $18.5 billion in debt. Years of dramatically overstaffed city agencies, over-generous retirement promises to public employee unions, and white-elephant development projects had left the city unable to police its streets, keep street lamps on, maintain parks, or provide other basic government services, no matter how much the city government raised taxes.

he lesson of Detroit is one that governments everywhere can learn: In a world with finite resources, governments that try to do too much end up neglecting even the essential.

Detroit's case is a microcosm of what Americans are now experiencing nationwide in several different areas — the evident inability of public health officials to manage the Ebola scare competently is just one of them.

 
POLITICO poll: Alarm, anxiety as election looms

POLITICO poll: Alarm, anxiety as election looms

By ALEXANDER BURNS

A voting booth is pictured. | AP Photo

An overwhelming majority of voters in the most competitive 2014 elections say it feels as if events in the United States are “out of control” and expressed mounting alarm about terrorism, anxiety about Ebola and harsh skepticism of both political parties only three weeks before the Nov. 4 midterms.

In a POLITICO poll testing the hardest-fought states and congressional districts of the year, two-thirds of likely voters said they feel that the United States has lost control of its major challenges. Only 36 percent said the country is “in a good position to meet its economic and national security” hurdles.

- Presidential management: Voters in the midterm battleground states are evenly split on whether President Barack Obama or George W. Bush was more effective at managing the federal government. Thirty-eighty percent named Bush, while 35 percent preferred Obama. A quarter of respondents said the two men were equally competent.
 
Ebola Vaccine Push Ramps Up

[image]

Ebola Vaccine Push Ramps Up

By Thomas M. Burton

The world had little interest in Ebola in 1997, when cell biologist Nancy J. Sullivan took up her work. Today, Dr. Sullivan would likely be at the center of any potential answer to the world’s severest Ebola outbreak.

A senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center, Dr. Sullivan has worked for years on a vaccine that has been proven to block Ebola in research monkeys. NIH is now racing to telescope what would have been a five- to 10-year testing plan into a few months. The vaccine is scheduled to undergo full human testing by early 2015 and could be in use potentially in time to help stem the disease in stricken West Africa.

here is no assurance this vaccine will work. It has competition from at least one other vaccine, which is running a month or more behind, being tested by the Public Health Agency of Canada and NewLink Genetics Corp. Either one might stop Ebola, or neither.

Experimental Ebola drugs are in the works to help treat existing cases. But these are generally in short supply, whereas GlaxoSmithKline PLC, which would be the manufacturer, thinks it could have one million doses of Dr. Sullivan’s vaccine available next year. That means, if all goes well, it could act as a firewall around a raging epidemic.

 
Flawed Ebola protocols left U.S. nurses vulnerable, health official says

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the original Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instructions for dealing with the virus were taken from the World Health Organization's protocol for Africa, where conditions are much different from those in U.S. hospitals. (Associated Press)

Flawed Ebola protocols left U.S. nurses vulnerable, health official says

- The Washington Times

An Obama administration health official said Sunday that U.S. protocols on Ebola failed because they originally were intended for African field hospitals, while the White House came under another round of attacks for its refusal to restrict travel from nations suffering epidemic outbreaks.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the original Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instructions for dealing with the virus were taken from the World Health Organization’s protocol for Africa, where conditions are much different from those in U.S. hospitals.

 
Denmark’s radical plan to deal with radicals: Roll out the welcome mat

Anthony Faiola and Souad Mekhennet

Some progressives praise officials for providing counseling and jobs to militants returning home from fighting in Iraq and Syria.

 
Catholic Bishops Vote Against Shift in Tone

[image]

Catholic Bishops Vote Against Shift in Tone

By Deborah Ball

Catholic bishops voted to water down a report earlier this week that advocated a significant shift in the church’s approach to gays and divorced Catholics.

Catholic bishops voted Saturday to water down a report earlier this week that advocated a significant shift in the church’s approach to gays and divorced Catholics, reflecting a deep split within the church’s leadership.

In a vote Saturday evening, an assembly of nearly 200 bishops, who have been discussing issues concerning the family at a special meeting known as a synod, took their final vote on a working document released Monday. That document, released halfway through the two-week synod, proposed a far more open approach to gays and suggested a path back to the church for divorced Catholics who have remarried to receive communion.

The document had created waves for highlighting the “precious support” that committed gay couples lend to one another, using language that was far more open and welcoming than the Catholic Church has employed in the past when referring to homosexuals.

At the same time, the report suggested that remarried Catholics could receive communion after a period of penance. Currently, the church denies communion to Catholics who have remarried, unless their first marriage is annulled.

A final vote on the document showed broad support for the original sections regarding gays and remarried Catholics, but it fell short of the two-third majority needed to retain them in their original in the synod’s final report.

As a result of the vote, both portions were revised. The section originally applauding the “precious support” sometimes found in same-sex unions was dropped, replaced by language simply saying that gays must be “welcomed with respect and delicacy.” On the topic of remarried Catholics, the final document largely expresses the need for further study on a solution.

 
To spank or not to spank: Corporal punishment in the US

To spank or not to spank: Corporal punishment in the US

By Stephanie Hanes

  A pro football player uses a switch on his child, and an American cultural divide between races, regions, and religions is exposed.

From the macro data, it seems that corporal punishment is becoming less popular in the United States. Evaluating numerous national surveys taken over the past decades, Murray Straus, an expert on corporal punishment at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, found that the number of parents who say spanking is sometimes necessary dropped from more than 90 percent in 1968 to about 65 or 70 percent in 1994, and then has remained fairly steady through today. Researchers have found that the number of parents who use corporal punishment has also decreased.

 
What Taylor Swift Mania Says About Teens

What Taylor Swift Mania Says About Teens

By Goal Auzeen Saedi, Ph.D.

What the popularity of music sensation Taylor Swift tells us about modern day tweens and teens.

 
Of Virtue and Vice, and a Vatican Priest

The Vatican cooperated with the Italian judiciary in the case of Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, turning over documents about his financial activities.

Francesco Pecoraro/Associated Press

The Vatican cooperated with the Italian judiciary in the case of Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, turning over documents about his financial activities.  Accused of money laundering, Msgr. Nunzio Scarano said he was holding money for charity. But some see him as a symbol of a financial system gone awry.

On a clear, warm day, a motorcycle zoomed through a quiet, narrow passageway in the old section of Salerno on Italy’s southwestern coast. The rider slowed in front of an elegant house with a baroque stone gate just long enough to shout “Thief! Thief!” before racing off.

The object of derision, Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, was behind the thick walls of his house and did not hear the rider. But the insult would not have surprised him. He has heard quite a few. He’s been called a “consummate delinquent” and a “pleasure-loving prelate.” Even Pope Francis cracked a joke about him, saying that “for sure he did not enter prison because he acted like Blessed Imelda,” before calling events in which the monsignor was involved “a scandal that hurts me.”

Before his arrest in June 2013, the monsignor was a top accountant at the Vatican office that, at that time, managed the Holy See’s real estate and investments. He is currently on trial, accused of money laundering — most notably, of trying to smuggle $26 million from Switzerland to Italy in a private plane, with the help of an Italian secret service agent.

An Italian judge calculated Monsignor Scarano’s wealth at more than $8.2 million, though the Vatican paid the priest just $41,000 a year. Italian authorities seized the 17-room, $1.7 million house in Salerno, where he is now under house arrest, along with many bank accounts; two of them, at the Vatican Bank, were seized by Vatican authorities.

The monsignor’s arrest made front-page news in Italy. “Scandal at the Vatican Bank,” screamed La Repubblica, a Rome-based newspaper. Within a few days, the Vatican Bank’s second and third in command resigned in disgrace. More than a dozen bankers, regulators, prosecutors, lawyers and Vatican insiders were interviewed for this article, and a majority of them consider Monsignor Scarano a small fish in the pond of the Vatican financial system, the accusations against him a mere symptom of much larger problems that Pope Francis is now energetically trying to correct.

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