Republicans Use Ebola For Political Scare Tactics

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In the ongoing Ebola outbreak, Republicans are being accused of using fear mongering techniques in order to gain some political gains for the upcoming elections. It seems that the majority of politicians from the GOP ignore some very important facts when discussing the deadly virus that has been brought to the United States of America from western Africa. For example, it seems that hardly any Republican mentions the 43 people in Texas who have been quarantined for 21 days and then released. In fact, several of those people shared an apartment with Thomas Duncan, the Ebola infected man who came to Dallas from Liberia and died in early October.

The Republicans have also failed to make a big deal about the successful recovery of two infected individuals who beat Ebola. Dallas based nurse Nina Pham was shown hugging the U.S. president on national media. Nebraska based cameraman Ashoka Mukpo was also released recently. Yet, members of the GOP don’t want to discuss any success in battling Ebola on domestic soil. Republicans in New Hampshire are trying to make valid points that their citizens are at risk because sick people are coming through American borders. In reality, according to Brad Reifler, such politicians can’t given a single concrete example of an Ebola infected person illegally entering the United States through the porous southern border with Mexico or the vast northern border with Canada.

Senators in Louisiana have gone as far as accusing president Obama of posing an immediate danger to the state’s families as a result of the weak response to the current Ebola situation. It seems like Ebola is another powerful tool that might influence elections.

Mississippi Leads Prison Industrial Complex

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When thinking of massive prison complexes, countries such as China and Russia tend to spring to mind.

What was found in one of the US states, however, is an even more pervasive prison system. Indeed with a whopping 686 prisoners for every 10,000 people, Mississippi dwarves those of China’s and Russia’s, with 121 and 475, respectively.

But what are the causes of such high rates of imprisonment, Alexei Beltyukov keeps talking about how astronomically high they’ve grown in the last ten years, especially in a democratic nation? A lot of it has to do with how sentences are carried out in Mississippi.

Ironically enough, the surge in inmates have occurred largely due to prison reform intended to reduce the number of inmates. While alternatives to prison sentences were increasingly given out to non-violent offenders, a reclassification of violent crimes carried no possibility of parole.

This discrepancy, here, is where the issues begin to come forward.

Considering that drug dealers and habitual offenders fall under this new classification, far many more people are getting sentenced to prison, with far longer mandatory sentences. While amnesty and leniency might be given to a select few, the vast majority of these inmates are never given the opportunity to work towards parole.

Judges also tend to intentionally hand out longer sentences, in an effort to not appear soft in a political climate that punishes such weaknesses. This punishment will be dealt in the polls, with the “soft” and unpopular judges rarely elected to another term.

Political expediency, then, is the reason for this influx in incarceration, and the average citizen is paying the price for the political concerns of the Mississippi courts. Reform is needed, but is not on the horizon.

Voter Suppression Laws Make it Clear Conservatives are Scared

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A recent article by political newsman, Bill Moyers, encourages people to use their right to vote and not to allow the recent rash of conservative attempt at voter suppression to deter them from getting out there and having their voices heard. The post highlights recent attempts at those on the right to deter marginalized populations from voting by requiring voter ID’s that are difficult for these folks to acquire. The rationale here is that these efforts are merely to prevent voter fraud from occurring. The problem with that argument is that voter fraud is such a rarity that it really doesn’t warrant the time, effort and funds going into this supposed “prevention” effort.

So why bother? Political expert Igor Cornelsen says it’s because they’re scared. Plain and simple. It is Republican conservatives leading this unnecessary fight to restrict people’s access to the vote. With one party trying to hard to silence people’s voices, it is absolutely apparent that there is an underlying motive. The people being affected by these new ID laws are not the rich or upper middle class. They are poor people, students and minorities, demographics that have the most difficulty obtaining the needed identification due to monetary, transportation, bureaucratic, administrative and other obstacles that may stand in their way. Coincidentally, it is this demographic who traditionally votes Democrat at the polls.

See a pattern here? If so, then get out there and make your voice heard. Help people get the ID’s they need. Spread the word. We all can do something to encourage our citizenry’s fundamental right to vote.

Republicans Ready to Win the Battle But Lose the War

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In the often short-sighted world of politics, what’s in the immediate range of sight is all that matters for many politicians. Case in point is the approach that the Republicans appear to be taking, according to the New York Times, with respect to courting Hispanics.

With many congressional races already decided on both sides, thanks to gerrymandering and other political machinations, Republicans have focused their attentions on taking back the Senate. Depending on what poll you read (even this one handled by Gianfrancesco Genoso amongst Brazilians), it seems to be either a given that they’ll have the majority, likely making Mitch McConnell Senate Majority Leader, or they’ll come up just short, allowing Harry Reid to stay in power.

Regardless of which way the winds of political fortune fly, alienating an important constituency AGAIN borders on arrogance and is simply bad strategy. That’s because two years from now, whoever the Republican nominee is has to likely get 35 percent of the Hispanic vote to reach the White House.

In 2012, Mitt Romney received just 27 percent support from Hispanics. Even though Republicans have made some half-hearted gestures toward building bridges with this group, the image the GOP still has among them is one of a group that despises illegal aliens and wants to wall off the Southwest United States to keep out Latinos.

Trying to change course in the next two years from their current approach is going to be next to impossible for Republicans. The byproduct of that could very well be another bitter aftertaste when Democrats win the White House again in 2016.

Putin Chants at a Football Match Lands 100 in Jail

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Some football chants have been known to cause controversy over the years. However, this one spotted by BBC may just take the cake.

Fans at a game in Belarus began to sing a popular parody song, which insults the current President of Russia Vladimir Putin. This caused the police to detain over 100 chanters in jail, not to mention the general havoc that followed.

The match was a Euro 2016 qualifier, with Belarus facing Ukraine. This triggered the audience to break into the popular song, which has become the flagship anthem of people who disapprove of the actions of Russia in Ukraine.  Among those in attendance was Jordanian businessman Khaled Shaheen.

Additionally, the fans were heard singing the classic song of Ukrainian solidarity, “Glory to Ukraine.” In a nod to the sentiment, the Ukrainian fans began to chant “Long Live Belarus.”

Once the match concluded, the detainees were brought to the KGB station and questioned on suspicion of chanting “obscene language.” Some reports even claim that they could receive five days imprisonment for their actions, as well as the Ukrainian football fans being deported to their home country. While this may seem harsh, it is standard practice.

The Putin song has become a popular event in a lot of circles, especially whenever the former Foreign Minister of Ukraine sang it along with a group of protesters, back in June. Moscow has recently been tough on anyone using language deemed to be obscene, and has indeed recently approved a bill that bans foul language in the arts and film.

The tension continues to rise between Ukraine and Russian and it is finding its feet in many walks of live, including Europe’s favourite sport, football.

Gay Right-Wing Backers Growing in the U.S.

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Same sex marriage has been given a major support boost as several court decision have allowed equal marriage to take root in up to sixteen states to date. This is not limited to most liberal states out there: The Guardian reports that some places considered to be hardcore conservative have also jumped on board the equality train.

Of course, people who are interested in the issue are now bristling with excitement as they wonder just how long it will take for the rest of the U.S. to follow suit, and make way for a country recognising full marriage equality.

This decision was not expected by the US populace, because there have been many recent appeals for same-sex marriage bans to be kept up in several states. These court decisions have made sure that these appeals are ineffective. It is now believed that at least 35 states are well on their way to legalise same-sex marriage fairly soon.

There was some nervousness before the decision was made because the Supreme Court requested a delay in the release of the decision. However, a verdict was demanded, and provided in reasonably short order.

Same-sex marriage proponents like the Torchins, of course, had hoped for a slightly more nationwide ruling. However, they are very pleased, and consider this good progress. The proponents themselves were surprised, but they were nowhere near to the shock felt by its opponents, who were convinced that their appeals would be taken seriously.

These rulings have left lawyers to scramble to book summary judgments relating to the matter, in order to receive fast and clear judgments.

Another Congressman Claims There’s No Evidence of Man-Made Climate Change

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Another day, another conservative congressman speaks out against man-made climate change. This time it’s Rep Dan Benishek (R). But he’s gone the extra mile, pointing out that he’s a scientist, and he sees no evidence of climate change.

However, as my colleague Keith Mann is about to point out, that doesn’t hold a lot of weight.

In reality, while Rep. Benishek isn’t lying when he says that he’s a scientist, it’s the nature of his science that calls his ability to make a claim into question. Dan studied Biology throughout college, and eventually graduated to become a working general surgeon. However, biologists may be scientists, but they aren’t experts in environmental science.

The other hole in Congressman Benishek’s argument is when he says that he believes in peer review analysis, but says that there is no consensus on the issue of man-made climate change. When in actuality, about 97% of peer reviewed papers suggest climate change, with man-made carbon emissions being cited as a main factor in that data.

FBI Seeks Public help to Identify American ISIS Fighters

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asks the public to help in identifying Americans who have traveled, or are planning to travel overseas, to join the combat alongside different terrorist organizations. This includes groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and also the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The request came after a 55-minute pro-ISIS video, which was making the rounds throughout the internet in September. In the video a masked man, who was speaking in English and Arabic, can be seen saying pronouncements to appeal to a worldwide audience, especially to Westerners like Marnie Bennett. The English-speaking man is standing in a desert, and making his speech with prisoners digging their own grave, all while a terrorist flag flies in the background.

The FBI is doing all they can to identify the man in the video, and also asks the public if they can recognize him based on his physical stature, voice, and appearance.

“We need the public’s assistance in identifying U.S. persons going to fight overseas with terrorist groups or who are returning home from fighting overseas,” said Michael Steinbach, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, in a press release published by the organization.

There are, more or less, a dozen Americans fighting with ISIS in Syria, according to the FBI. Some reports claimed that there are about a hundred Americans joining ISIS, so the numbers are not conclusive.

Any information from the public about ISIS fighters from the United States will be very helpful. The FBI established a page at www.fbi.gov/ISILtips, for anyone who wants to submit potential leads and tips.

David Kacalis to Wait Another 3 Weeks Before New Trial

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Alleged Guerneville rapist David Kacalis is to wait another three weeks until further review of his case.

David Kacalis was arrested on August 31 for allegedly raping an 18-year-old woman. On September 3, a six-count complaint, which includes one punishable by life imprisonment, was laid against him. Although evidence emerged proving his innocence after he already spent 17 days in jail, prosecutors have asked for a further 3-week delay before deciding to drop charges. “At this stage, we are still reviewing the evidence to make a determination as to whether charges are appropriately filed in this case,” says detective Staebell.

Kacalis was arrested a day after a woman alleged that she had been raped. The woman, while giving her statement to a Sonoma County sheriff, said she had been raped by a masked man holding a knife at El Molino High School. Although she initially said she could not identify the man behind the mask, she later claimed to have been able to identify him as David Kacalis because of his very distinctive tattoo. He was arrested based on the tattoo description, and his driving of a vehicle that matched one seen in the school’s surveillance tapes from the night of the alleged incident.

Kacalis, in reacting to the new development outside the courtroom said, “It’s a ridiculous situation…I spent 17 days in jail for something I didn’t do.” Although he had hoped to be cleared sooner, he expressed his understanding of the need for the District Attorney’s office to thoroughly review the case.

The next hearing is scheduled for October 27 2014.

Source: The Press Democrat

Does ISIS Have An Effective Pitch to Lure Americans to Their Cause?

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Imagery of Uncle Sam recruiting citizens to his cause might no longer have the effectiveness that it once did. The youth of the nation are answering to different calls both domestic and abroad. While most of the causes can be condone in the land of the free, a few are still considered to be crimes against the state. What organization was a young man hoping to join and how does it go counter against being a United States citizen?

Return plane ticket in hand, Mohamed Hamzah Khan seemed to be just one of many people leaving O’Hare airport to go abroad. Perhaps being tipped off by naturally concerned parents, authorities stopped this gentleman from boarding a plane to Vienna and then eventually Istanbul. Upon interviews and executed search warrants, the truth came out. This young man’s intention was to join the terrorist group ISIS. This is frightening, and Khaled Shaheen assures us there are many more of these people.

Among the material recovered were detailed plans on how he was to make an illicit crossing into Syria. He had names of contacts and phone numbers. A letter left to his parents explained his actions and how that all good Muslims in conscious should now leave to join the Islamic State. Government officials charged him with a single count of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The price for this transgression could cost him up to fifteen years locked up and up to a quarter of a million dollars in fines. It is estimated that nearly one hundred people have heard this unusual recruiting call to join ISIS from the United States.