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Henry Damn Kissinger

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I am 76 years old and I don’t care if he is dead, I still want to impeach Richard Nixon.

So, understand that’s where my little grey head is.

But, Henry Kissinger is a whole ‘nother story.  I hate Henry Kissinger with a rage reserved for Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, and Vlad the Impaler all combined and put in a five pound sack with two cobras and a really pissed off chihuahua.

This morning I was comforted to read that Jeff Tiedrich hates Kissinger almost as much as I do.  Except he does it so much better than I do. I will warn you that Jeff is what I call colorful and Momma called vulgar.

Dante said there were nine circles of hell.  As of this morning there are ten.


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5 hours ago
Central Pennsyltucky
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EDITED OUT: Robert De Niro LIVID over censorship attempt of awards show speech

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Robert De Niro utterly razed the producers of the Gotham Independent Film Awards on Monday by accusing the group of editing out his scathing remarks lambasting former President Donald Trump from his speech during the ceremony.

De Niro’s speech was to celebrate the Historical Icon and Creator Tribute

Last Saturday, De Niro gave a long, wide-ranging, and indicting speech At the Stop Trump Summit, in which he talked about the danger that Trump represents to this country.

He held nothing back, stating in part:

“Over the years, I’ve met gangsters here and there. This guy tries to be one, but he can’t quite pull it off. There’s such a thing as ‘honor among thieves.’ Yes, even criminals usually have a sense of right and wrong.”

“Whether they do the right thing or not is a different story — but — they have a moral code, however warped. Donald Trump does not. He’s a wannabe tough guy with no morals or ethics. No sense of right or wrong. No regard for anyone but himself — not the people he was supposed to lead and protect, not the people he does business with, not the people who follow him, blindly and loyally, not even the people who consider themselves his ‘friends.’”

He went on to call Trump an “evil” man.

On Monday night at the Gotham show, De Niro figured out quickly that his full speech wasn’t on the teleprompter. Thus, the famous actor ad-libbed a little:

“The beginning of my speech was edited, cut out. I didn’t know about it. And I want to read it.”

The audience applauded. Would you want to miss what De Niro had to say about anything? Especially Trump?

“Thank you. History isn’t history anymore. Truth is not truth. Even facts are being replaced by alternative facts.”

He went on, reading from his phone:

“And driven by conspiracy theories and ugliness. Ugliness. In Florida, young students are taught that slaves developed skills which could be applied for their personal benefit. The entertainment industry isn’t immune to this festering disease, the Duke,John Wayne, famously said of Native Americans, ‘I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.’”

“Lying has become just another tool in the charlatan’s arsenal. The former president lied to us more than 30,000 times during his four years.”

Again, some applause:

“Years in office and he’s keeping up the pace in his current campaign of retribution. But with all his lies, she can’t hide his soul. He attacks the weak, destroys the gifts of nature, and shows disrespect, for example, by using Pocahontas as a slur. Filmmakers, on the other hand, strive. And this is where I came in and I saw that they edited all that.”

Even more applause. But then the noted actor went on to add some serious criticism for those who took his speech off his teleprompter, producers of his new Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, produced by Apple and the Gotham Independent Film Awards  (The producers of the award ceremony).

Of course, no one is going to stop him. He’s Robert F*#cking De Niro.

Are you going to tell him to shut up?

“So I’m going to say these things but to Apple and thank them and all that Gotham, blah, blah blah Apple, but who? I don’t feel like thanking them at all for what they did. How dare they do that, actually. But now I will go.”

De Niro has earned the respect he enjoys in this country and around the world, not only for his undeniable talent but also for his utter “goodness,” whether it’s mentoring young actors or blasting the threat to democracy brought by an evil man.

We just hope enough people listen.

This column leans heavily on a transcript provided by Mediaite.

I can be reached at and on “X” @JasonMiciak.

Editor’s note: This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author

The post EDITED OUT: Robert De Niro LIVID over censorship attempt of awards show speech appeared first on Occupy Democrats.

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1 day ago
Central Pennsyltucky
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What It Means When Women Don't Have Abortions

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It’s good news for the anti-abortion movement and bad news for women, children, and the country: In every state where abortion is banned, abortion rates have plummeted, and even though abortion rates have ticked up nationwide, researchers have concluded that roughly 32,000 American women have given birth after not being able to access abortion in red states.

That means that between one-fourth and one-fifth of women living in abortion-hostile states who might have otherwise ended their pregnancies were not able to get abortions, and gave birth instead.

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The details of what this means can be difficult for abortion rights supporters to talk about, because each of these 32,000 doesn’t just count a woman who was denied an abortion; it also counts a child who is now in the world, and deserves love and care and support. This is where the anti-abortion movement focuses their rhetoric (if not their money or energy): On the new babies, who most people naturally and rightly want to protect, and who we don’t want to think about not existing. And these 32,000 babies do deserve our attention, concern, and certainly our resources. Unfortunately, the anti-abortion Republican Party is largely blocking that from happening, and the anti-abortion movement isn’t pushing them to change.

That 32,000 number, though, isn’t just 32,000 babies who exist today and may not have if Roe wasn’t overturned. It’s 32,000 women who had their lives changed forever: Who now may miss out on love, stability, safety, adventure, freedom, future children, and even life itself.

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The anti-abortion movement often talks about childbearing and motherhood as if it’s no big deal, a simple “inconvenience” that some selfish women try to avoid with abortion. But there is almost nothing more life-changing than having a child. It’s also one of the only big life decisions that you can’t undo. If you have a bad marriage, you can get divorced. If you hate where you live. you can move. If you buy a house, you can sell it. None of that is easy; undoing big life decisions is usually excruciatingly painful, almost always excruciatingly difficult, and usually excruciatingly expensive. But generally, the markers of adult life than many people take on can be undone or remade.

Children are the big exception. They change everything, especially if you are a good parent who dedicates significant time and resources to your children. They cannot be handed back to the universe, nor (for decent people) simply lived alongside in resignation. Some women place children for adoption, but this doesn’t undo the existence of those children, or the forever tether between birth mother and child. And most women, even those forced into childbearing, choose to keep and raise the children they birth, because maternity is complex and the tie to the children one gestates and births is deep and profound.

This relationship is so deep and profound — so sacred — that there is something especially ghastly about forcing women to enter into it unwillingly. It is on par with the abuses inherent to other situations in which women are forced to submit their bodies and souls to another: Forced marriage, forced sex. Forced motherhood lands squarely on that monstrous list.

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Climate Change Also Impacts Humans Through Disease

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The Spread of the Tick-Borne Alpha-Gal Syndrome Foreshadows the Future of Diseases Influenced by Climate Change

Climate change is exacerbating the spread of diseases.

The lone star tick is a prime example of this. The species is taking advantage of climbing temperatures by widening its territory in the southeastern and southcentral U.S. and expanding as far as the northern U.S. and eastern Canada. More people are being affected by the pathogen it carries, which results in a condition called alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) and causes an allergy to meat and dairy.

Lone star tick
A lone star tick. Credit: Katja Schulz

During the summer of 2022, the CDC issued a report explaining that the number of people diagnosed with AGS spiked by 41% between 2017 and 2021. The impact of climate change on the spread of AGS foreshadows future patterns of other emerging and expanding health threats to humans. And ticks aren’t the only vector.

“The evidence is overwhelming that climate change is one of the main drivers of emerging infectious diseases,” said Rick Ostfeld, a distinguished senior scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York.

In a 2022 study, Erik Franklin, a Ph.D. and associate research professor at University of Hawaii at Mānoa, found that 58% of infectious diseases have at some point been aggravated by climate hazards.

This includes a host of diseases that can be spread by ticks, mosquitoes, animals, fungi and water. For example, increased precipitation during winter and spring in Colorado has contributed to a rising mosquito population, heightening the risk of exposure to West Nile; and rising temperatures have enabled the fungus Coccidioides, known to live in hot and dry conditions in the southwestern U.S., to spread to the Pacific Northwest, increasing the geographic range of risk for Valley fever.

Franklin says that as the planet warms, disease-carrying pests like ticks, mosquitoes and fleas are able to expand their habitats. Longer periods of warmer temperatures create a longer active season, allowing them more time to travel and carry pathogens into new areas.

These developments significantly increase the risk of contact between pathogens and humans. They also render physicians unprepared for not only recognizing new or lesser-known illness from these spreading pathogens but also for treating them. This unpreparedness is evident in how AGS has been dealt with so far.

The lone star tick was pushed out of its original habitat, the Midwest, largely due to tree clearing and land development. The species had retreated to the southeastern and southcentral U.S. But climate change has helped create the conditions for this species to expand back to the Midwest and farther, into areas of Canada. This spreading occurs through the ticks’ own migration as well as by its attachment onto traveling mammals, like white-tailed deer. Many of the mammal species that pests latch onto are also experiencing population and habit increases linked to climate change, further adding to the risk of pest-borne pathogens.

Map of lone star tick
The lone star tick is present in many areas of the United States. Credit: CDC

Katie Cahoj, in southcentral Missouri, always had a freezer fully stocked with beef by her cattlefarming father, until July 2020, when she was diagnosed with AGS.

No treatment or cure is currently available for the syndrome. A survey carried out by the CDC on healthcare providers’ awareness of AGS revealed that many had never heard of it or didn’t know how to treat it.

Cahoj was diagnosed by her primary care physician. She was able to advise multiple friends, who had undiagnosed AGS at the time, to suggest the possibility of AGS to their physicians.

“After diagnosis you’re really left to figure it out on your own,” Cahoj said. She wrote a cookbook, “An Alpha-Gal Cooks,” six months after her diagnosis because there were no available, helpful resources for her at the time.

Habitat destruction has also contributed to the spread of lone star ticks. Climate change can cause severe weather events, like droughts or storms, and long-term increases or decreases in temperature, which harm habitats and impact their biodiversity.

The CDC issued a report in 2020 that explains that climate change has affected the geographic distribution and range of other insects and pests, like mosquitoes carrying Lyme disease, Zika, West Nile and dengue.

“Humans overcome disease by exposure,” says Ostfeld. When human populations that were entirely unexposed to a certain pathogen, historically not present in their geographic range, become exposed, “very rapid epidemics” can occur, he says.

But it goes both ways. Human populations are also shifting their locations due to climate change.

Climate hazards, like weather events that have been strengthened by climate change, cause people to move out of their normal home areas and go to areas where they’re more susceptible to pathogens that they aren’t used to, says Franklin. He explains that this migration also increases the chances that humans will be exposed to pathogens that have been strengthened by climate change in certain regions.

In terms of keeping up with emerging environmental threats, experts agree that the responsibility of identifying conditions should rest on a patient’s first line of defense: the general practitioner.

Building off of what already exists instead of creating an “emerging environmental conditions” specialist field is essential to beginning to create equal, global care for environmental threats.

“If we only have specialists then only the privileged will be able to benefit from that,” says Ostfeld. The impact of climate change on diseases is already spread disproportionately among humans.

Certain, less developed areas may have fewer degrees of separation from the environment, so people there are more vulnerable to and will be more affected by any changes. Infrastructure, like pipes or electricity, makes an area more tolerant to climate hazards. A simple example of this is air conditioning and TV: a person will spend more time in the comfortable temperature of their home watching TV, rather than going outside, decreasing the chances that they are exposed to pathogens that have been enhanced by climate change.

“A very critical piece of the puzzle that’s missing right now is surveillance,” says Jennifer Platt, a Ph.D. and co-founder and director of Tick-borne Diseases United based in North Carolina. The non-profit is dedicated to helping diagnose and treat tick-borne diseases, the prevention of such diseases as well as conducting research and educating about these diseases. She discusses how tracking the spread of diseases will help identify “when to raise a red flag.”

Many states in the southeast and central U.S. encourage the reporting of positive AGS cases to their Department of Health, however the CDC only requires voluntary reporting. Thus, many states are forced to do estimates. This makes it difficult to track the syndrome’s impact and distribution. However, in some states, like Rhode Island, providers are required to report positive tick-borne laboratory results, including but not limited to AGS.

Improved surveillance and tracking of emerging conditions exacerbated by climate change could be crucial to creating an efficient system that addresses environmental health threats, experts say. This type of tool would help spread awareness of conditions globally and provide aid to the affected regions.

Franklin and his team created an online database that enables practitioners to track the effects of climate on human infectious diseases. He says that healthcare providers should be aware of how things are going to be changing and expanding into areas that they historically haven’t been.

“We’re always facing new realities,” Ostfeld says. Many experts want to see the medical practice become more adaptive and openminded, as practitioners will likely encounter an increasing number of conditions that they haven’t seen before, which have rapidly spread due to climate change.

Platt explains that it’s essential for doctors to listen to their patients when they are describing their symptoms, and to not stick to the rigid boundaries of what they already know.

In terms of AGS, these boundaries have caused patients much distress—when their symptoms don’t line up with what their physician knows, and they leave the office confused about their condition.

From the patient’s side, Cahoj explains the importance of advocating for your symptoms, because sometimes the practitioner may not understand or be willing to put in the time to do more research on new conditions.

The CDC’s Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) outlines steps that can be taken to help communities prepare for the health impacts of climate change. The acronym is aimed at healthcare officials.

The implementation of new regulations and systems is well-known to be a slow process. Platt explains how social media helped to amplify the voices of people with AGS. The public can continue to create conversation and share their stories relating to other emerging or new environmental health threats, as this might be the most effective system for spreading awareness at the moment.

“Everything that we know about allergies isn’t followed by alpha-gal,” says Platt. Open collaboration and communication between patients, providers and the public are paramount to keeping up with lesser-known emerging and expanding diseases.


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If you get bitten by the wrong tick you may develop an allergy to meat and dairy.
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AR: Are Vouchers Rescuing Anyone?

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Arkansas's Governor Sanders made it a top priority to ram through a package of Florida-style education privatization law when she took office, and the legislature obliged, with the passage of the LEARNS Act last year. It was followed by a lawsuit intended to roll back some of the law. Now the state has released a report on the ESA super-voucher that was part of the law, and the lawyer attached to the lawsuit sums it up pretty well
“This program was passed and sold to the public, and sold to legislators, as a way to help poor students trapped in failing public schools, but in fact, that’s not at all what happened,” Attorney Ali Noland said.

What does the report tell us?

The Education Freedom Accounts (because nobody wants to call vouchers "vouchers") were used by 4,785+ students at $6,672 a pop. 94 schools participated. 59% of those students were located in the Little Rock area, with another 19% in the northwest corner of the state. 

And here's the part that Noland spotted:

5% of the students who used the taxpayer-funded vouchers actually left a public school. 5%. Five percent (just making sure you know this was not one of my usual typos). All the other 95% were either first-time kindergartners or already enrolled in private school. 

What else? 38% of voucher users are in ten of the voucher-accepting schools. Of those top ten, nine are explicitly religious schools. The usual religious restrictions apply. Some examples.

Little Rock Christian Academy is the biggest school on the list, with 1,665 enrolled, of whom 324 voucher students. In its Christian Community Statement, it says:

As a religious organization, the LRCA Christian community views trustee, employee, student, parent, and family lifestyle choices and conduct to be a reflection of religious beliefs and Christian commitment. LRCA will exercise its prerogative as a religious organization to neither commence nor continue an appointment, employment, admission, enrollment, or other category of LRCA Christian community relationship if it is believed by LRCA that so doing will cause confusion about, conflict with, or compromise of the LRCA Christian community’s mission to provide a distinctly Christian education from a Christ-centered worldview.

At the Central Arkansas Christian School, the secondary school application includes a survey that asks if the student has ever been in trouble with the law, has Attention Deficit Disorder "or any other learning issues, or if they are or have been married or pregnant. Shiloh Christian School promises instruction by "born-again Christian teachers in an environment where God and His Word are the highest authority."

That's just the top three participants. Also worth noting that while the first two are located in Little Rock, which is almost 50% Black, the depicted students are almost entirely white. Of the 94 participating schools, 65 are clearly religious schools (one Islamic, the rest Christian). Unsurprising, as Arkansas's Department of Education has been actively promoting private Christian schools

While service providers can also participate, it appears that so far that group0 is just three uniform supply companies and Staples. Money from the voucher system has been spent almost entirely on tuition, with a tiny amount for uniforms and "required academic expenses." Out of the $7,077,597 handed out in the first quart, $176,853 went to ClassWallet for managing the money. Arkansas set up an ESA style voucher that allows for all manner of spending, but so far it's behaving like a traditional voucher that is used for tuition.

So is this voucher set-up rescuing poor students from failing schools? Clearly not. But it is throwing a whole bunch of money at private religious schools and affluent families. And advocates are anticipating they'll be throwing more and more in the years ahead. 

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TRANSPARENT: Hunter Biden offers to publicly testify to Congress

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A Republican on the House Judiciary Committee says holding public hearings are “for show” and advantageous to “members who just want to play for the cameras.”

Republicans insist that President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, involved his father in corruption, and political and financial misdeeds. They further state that they plan to expose this alleged corruption to the public through subpoenas, hearings, and investigations.

Now, the younger Biden says he’ll be happy to testify publicly  — and they aren’t happy about it.

Hunter’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, sent a letter to the Oversight Committee agreeing to speak in a public hearing scheduled for December 13th.

However, he said that his client wants to prevent the “selective leaks, manipulated transcripts, doctored exhibits, or one-sided press statements” that could potentially arise from a closed-door hearing, so he’s requesting that the process be public.

Republicans have held hearings already to try to find evidence supporting impeachment of President Biden, or showing that his son received preferential treatment when being investigated. They claim that there was an access scheme underway, but have produced no supporting evidence, and Biden seems ready to get everything out in the open. The Independent reported:

“Mr Lowell said Mr Biden would ‘get right to it by agreeing to answer any pertinent and relevant question you or your colleagues might have’ at ‘a public Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing,’ instead of the ‘cloaked, one-sided process’ of a closed-door deposition.”

The party that claims it is seeking transparency isn’t having it.

Representative James Comer (R-KY), who had himself filmed for Twitter earlier this month as he signed documents to subpoena Hunter Biden and others, released a statement rejecting the offer to testify. The statement read, according to CBS:

“Hunter Biden is trying to play by his own rules instead of following the rules required of everyone else. That won’t stand with House Republicans.”

Representative Ben Cline (R-VA) also spoke for his party, telling Newsmax:

“The Democrats are stalling. They’ve essentially sent the message to Hunter Biden that ‘we will protect you if its in public and for show’…in a deposition…you ask little questions that wont be interfered with by counsel for the other side and by members for the other side who just want to play for the cameras.”

Watch Cline defend his party’s rejection of Biden’s willingness to testify below.

Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.

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The party that claims it is seeking transparency isn’t having it.
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