James West celebrates the CBC’s coverage of Wednesday’s attack on the Canadian Parliament building, especially this segment:

Canadian authorities have released more details about the gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. Apparently, Zehaf-Bibeau had a criminal record in three cities and planned to travel to Syria, but he was not flagged as a security threat:

Commissioner Bob Paulson of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the gunman’s motives remained largely unknown, but the commissioner said he was confident that Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau had acted alone and had no strong ties to other extremists. The commissioner, the head of Canada’s national police, said that much remained a mystery about the shooting frenzy that led to Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau’s death, trapped thousands of people in downtown Ottawa and, at one point, left Prime Minister Stephen Harper without bodyguards and separated only by a wooden door from a gunfight.

“The R.C.M.P. did not even know Mr. Zehaf was in Ottawa,” Commissioner Paulson said during the lengthy news conference.

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Moms For Marijuana Reform

Oct 24 2014 @ 12:19pm

Emily Badger talks to mothers supporting Oregon’s legalization initiative:

If Oregon sufficiently undermines the black market, marijuana wouldn’t be sold, as [stay-at-home Yes On 91mom and Yes on 91 supporter Leah] Maurer puts it, “everywhere.” And where it is sold, government would control access the same way it does to age-restricted alcohol. Teens of course still get their hands on beer, as they will no doubt still get their get their hands on marijuana — a point the moms opposed to Measure 91 make. If you don’t want your kid to smoke marijuana, the question is whether you think a regulated world — one that comes with tighter control but greater public acceptance of pot — will create the lesser of two evils.

“Think about the repeal of prohibition of alcohol,” [Anthony Johnson, the chief petitioner for the measure] says. “Voters and concerned citizens still wanted to know there’s somebody checking IDs, that alcohol’s being tested, labeled properly, sold in properly zoned areas. When you repeal, you didn’t have it legal so anybody could brew as much as they want and sell it.”

Mark Kleiman has misgivings about Oregon’s initiative. He worries that, as written, the law will lead to more teen use:

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The Obamacare Attack Ads Return

Oct 24 2014 @ 12:02pm

Republicans are once again hammering Democrats over the law:

Charlie Cook discusses at the ebb and flow of these attacks:

“The ACA is back to being a top issue in these closing weeks, and it probably was never realistic to expect it to remain as dominant as Republicans made it last winter and spring, when they had the extra incentives of undermining enrollment and lousy headlines,” says Kantar Media/CMAG chief Elizabeth Wilner, who is also a contributing editor for The Cook Political Report. Earlier this year, GOP strategists began advising their candidates and campaigns to diversify their message, saying that Republicans had milked the Obamacare cow to the point where there was no milk—that is, new support—to be gained. Strategists suggested that Republicans continue to talk about and advertise on the issue to a certain extent, to keep their base energized, but not to come across like a one-trick pony by talking solely about the ACA and the GOP’s issues with it.

Margaret Talev sees advantages and disadvantages for the GOP:

A Gallup Poll in early October found deep partisan divisions on Obamacare, with 80 percent of Republicans saying the law will make U.S. healthcare worse in the long run and 66 percent of Democrats saying it will make the system better. Independents were divided, with 42 percent predicting worse results, 32 percent predicting things would get better and 20 percent saying it would make no difference. Meanwhile, a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll out this week says voters still don’t like the law, but consider it a second-tier issue. They would rather improve the law than repeal it, and think congressional candidates should just move on.

But Byron York claims that Obamacare is a priority for voters “in states with closely contested Senate races, who regularly place it among the top issues of the campaign”:

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The View From Your Window

Oct 24 2014 @ 11:43am

Duluth, Minnesota-5-00

Duluth, Minnesota, 5 pm

After new reporting on Michael Brown’s death, Ambinder asks, “did the media get Ferguson wrong?”

Police militarization and an unequal justice system are real problems that deserve sustained scrutiny. These problems are more insidious than a rush to judgment against one particular officer, presumption of innocence be damned. So maybe the best thing to do would be to say, well, in this particular case, it turns out that the police officer might not have acted as wantonly as we thought. But it really doesn’t matter, because the response to the shooting called attention to police abuse and discrimination in a way that resonated across the world. They had tanks! They threatened to killed reporters! The truth here is less important than Truth.

For the news media, though, the “injustice is the story, not Darren Wilson” story won’t wash.

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The owner of the above title-quote follows up:

Hey, I’m the guy who wrote the thing that pissed a bunch of women off. In my defense, I didn’t mean to suggest that women CAN’T be nerds, and when I said I tend to be skeptical of the idea, I actually meant it as a compliment. I understand the over-reaction, as the misogynistic argument many people seem to think I’m making (that only men can be nerds and women must be faking) is far too common, and largely a translation of male nerd insecurity. Then again, if they weren’t insecure, they probably wouldn’t be nerds. I tend to assume women are more confident, well adjusted, and psychologically centered – all things nerds lack in the real world, and only claim when we create our own insular ones.

Again, the point is that being a nerd isn’t just about what one likes or even being ostracized for liking it, but about how one reacts to that ostracism. There are many healthy ways of doing this, either by attempting to acclimate to the group or attempting to forge one’s own identity independent of it. Recoiling into your own obsession until it consumes you to the point where you can’t fit into normal society even if you wanted to (i.e. devolving from an enthusiast into a nerd) isn’t one of them. Most of the women I’ve known in my life, even the avid D&D players and Whovians, were better than that. They can divorce their identity from their passions when the need arises. Being a nerd means you can’t.

A few others defend that reader:

It’s a shame to see people so adamantly reject an opportunity to practice some empathy. Not that there should be empathy for people making death threats, but they (the threateners) are enabled by people who might actually have some lived experience that is worth listening to. There is a market for what Gamergate is selling and we should be asking why.

Look, girl nerds didn’t have it great. But I’m going to venture a guess that they weren’t physically abused over it to the extent that boy nerds were.

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Why Do Americans Go Out Sick?

Oct 24 2014 @ 10:47am

Howard Markel tries to understand why NYC’s first Ebola patient went out on the town the day before going to the hospital:

I cannot presume to know what Dr. Spencer was thinking when he went out bowling the other night. He might have just been bored. He might have just not been thinking at all about the potential risks to himself or others. But if he is like me when I was a bold, young physician out to conquer illness as if I were a soldier in a good war, I bet he just thought Ebola could not happen to him.

Julia Ioffe confesses that this was “something my Soviet family and I could never get used to in the States, the stubbornness with which Americans trudge to work or school with triple-digit fevers or noses like spigots”:

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Ishaan Tharoor calls attention to Yemen, which remains embroiled in a civil conflict with a dangerous sectarian dimension after Houthi rebels took over the capital Sanaa last month:

The Houthis are alleged to be Iranian-backed; their traditional slogan (“Death to America! Death to Israel!”) echoes that of Hezbollah, Iran’s Shiite proxy in Lebanon. Al-Qaeda and its Sunni allies have energetically taken the fight to the Houthis, giving the conflict a worrisome sectarian edge — one that is similar to the awful bloodshed wracking Syria and Iraq.

But like in Syria and Iraq, the situation is not that simple. The Houthis are from the Zaydi branch, a distinct sect of Shiite Islam that is closer to Sunni Islam than most. … There are also suggestions that Sunni regimes in the Gulf have tacitly backed the Houthi surge, seeing it as the best bet for stability in perennially fractious Yemen. Whatever the case, a narrative of sectarian violence plays into al-Qaeda’s hands. Some elements of the Yemeni branch also declared support for the Islamic State, extremists who butcher all those they consider heretics or apostates. Things could very well get worse before they get any better.

Indeed, the crisis has re-invigorated southern Yemeni separatists, and fighting is ongoing in several parts of the country:

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Ebola Reaches NYC

Oct 24 2014 @ 9:41am

New York's Bellevue Hospital Prepares For Possible Ebola Cases

Last night, New York’s first case of Ebola was confirmed. Margaret Hartmann has a helpful primer on what we know about the situation:

On Thursday, Dr. Craig Spencer, who had been working with Doctors Without Borders treating Ebola patients in Guinea, was rushed to New York’s Bellevue Hospital with a high fever. A few hours later, tests confirmed the worst: Spencer has Ebola, making him the fourth person diagnosed with the disease in the United States, and the first diagnosed outside of Texas. So far, the situation appears to be under control: Bellevue has been preparing for weeks, Spencer was hospitalized shortly after becoming symptomatic, and officials are already tracking down anyone he may have come into contact with. However, the fact that he went to a bowling alley, took a taxi, and rode the subway on Wednesday night is not likely to calm those already on edge about the virus.

Alexandra Sifferlin examines the city’s preparations:

New York City has been prepping and drilling its hospitals for the possibility of an Ebola patient since July 28, when it was confirmed that Americans Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol had contracted Ebola in Liberia. “I wanted to know that our staff was able to handle [a possible Ebola patient],” says Dr. Marc Napp, senior vice president of medical affairs at Mount Sinai Health System.

“We’ve prepared for a variety of different things in the past: anthrax, H1N1, small pox, 9/11, Hurricane Sandy,” Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) told TIME. “This preparation is not unusual.”

Cohn compares NYC’s Ebola response to the one in Dallas:

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Reviewing Daniel Schreiber’s Susan Sontag: A Biography, Carl Rollyson attributes the late critic and novelist’s decades-long prominence to “the time-tested American trick of self reinvention” – and he doesn’t mean that entirely as a compliment:

When the argument of Against Interpretation that art is a matter of form, not content—that conveying messages is not the purpose of art, but that art in itself is the message—got stale and became a staple of too many critics, Sontag switched sides. In “Fascinating Fascism,” she declared that the content of Leni Riefenstahl’s films and photographs is irretrievably fascist and cannot be countermanded by considerations of form and style. At every stage of her career, Sontag performed a similar volte face, saying, for example, that communism is fascism with a human face—although earlier she had shouted “Viva Fidel!” The capper on this career-long repudiation of her own ideas came when she said she never really believed what she wrote in Against Interpretation.

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