Monday, April 18, 2016

Last Call For Invasion Of The Liz's People

Don't look now, but it appears that the House in 2017 will include the reprehensible Liz Cheney as she zeroes in on her father's former Wyoming House seat. You didn't think America would ever be free of the scourge of the Cheney political family, did you? 

Liz Cheney isn’t giving up.

After stumbling in her bid to become a senator in 2014, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney was back making the rounds at the Wyoming Republican Party’s state convention in hopes of becoming the state’s sole member in the House of Representatives. In a year when anti-establishment fervor is at a peak, Cheney is balancing the benefits and burdens of her famous last name.

“Not everybody likes Dick Cheney, I don’t know if you know that or not,” Cheney told the audience of Wyoming Republicans, when one inquired about the former Vice President’s health. “He’s doing great, thanks for asking,” she answered, adding he’s spending much of his time driving her daughter Grace to rodeos in the state. Continuing the story, Cheney said another child once taunted her daughter about her grandfather.

“Gracie didn’t miss a beat,” Cheney retold, speaking at a luncheon she sponsored for delegates to the state’s GOP convention. “She said that kid doesn’t know anything—he drives a Prius.” The line drew guffaws among the Republicans in the energy-heavy state.

Politics for the Cheneys is a family affair. The former Vice President held the seat she hopes to occupy for a decade in the 1980s. Liz Cheney’s children, including Grace—who skipped a rodeo to come—worked the convention in matching t-shirts and hats, handing out pamphlets and stickers to delegates.

Cheney’s first effort at statewide office—a primary challenge to incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi—ended before a single vote was cast. Branded by some as a carpetbagger (she lived in Virginia and worked in Washington, but grew up in Wyoming), Cheney’s decision to run against a member of her own party rubbed many Republicans the wrong way.

But whatever bitterness was there has since subsided, as Cheney has barnstormed the state. She is now the front-runner to replace Rep. Cynthia Lummis, facing off against as many as 10 GOP rivals in the state’s Aug 16 primary. On Friday, Cheney reported raising more than $730,000 for her effort since she launched her campaign in February—far out-raising her chief rivals—with more than $600,000 on hand. Her campaign bragged that “she didn’t accept one dollar of PAC money from Washington, D.C.

Plenty of political families have existed in American history like this.  Few, outside maybe the Bush family, have done as much damage to the country as the Cheneys.  Now it looks like Liz will win the seat that got her father's awful career jump-started nearly 40 years ago.

How much damage will she end up doing?  We'll find out.

Love And Haiti In The Time Of Cholera

So if Slate writer Jonathan Katz is even remotely correct here, a CDC map in Atlanta on display in the agency's museum actually points out that the epidemiologists there knew full well that the massive cholera outbreak in Haiti following the earthquake there in 2010 was actually caused by a UN peacekeeping mission from Nepal.  Katz has long been on the trail of this story, but the map strongly seems to suggest that the US government was well aware and looked the other way for political expediency.

Which seems to happen a lot these days.

The U.N. soldiers at that base had just arrived from their home country, Nepal, where a cholera outbreak was underway. Thanks to negligent sanitation practices, such as the open dump pits above, there was a multiplicity of ways that their choleraic feces could have gotten from the base into the river, including latrine pipes leaking over a drainage canal that emptied into the river.

However it happened, from that very spot, that cholera strain—the same strain found in Nepal, which had never been seen before in Haiti, ever—spread throughout the country. By January 2011, the date given for the map, it had been well-established—mainly through my reporting and the work of French epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux—that this was the case.

Since the first days of the epidemic, the U.N. has tried to cover up what it did. Everyone from the soldiers on the base to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been implicated. The Obama administration and the U.S. government did not want the U.N. to be held accountable, because doing so might persuade other people elsewhere to hold U.S. peacekeeping missions accountable—and because the U.S. foots about a quarter of the U.N. peacekeeping budget.

The CDC, a U.S. government agency, discouraged journalists from asking about the epidemic’s origin, telling them that pinpointing the source, Dr. Snow–style, was “not productive,” “not central,” and would likely never happen. Its epidemiologists did provide a key detail early on, when they identified the strain in Haiti as having a recent South Asian origin—meaning it could have come from Nepal and not from South America, Africa, or anywhere else cholera was circulating at the time. But after that, the CDC refused to take environmental samples from around the base or test the soldiers during the small window when doing either would have been worthwhile. All of this detailed in a damning new book by Ralph R. Frerichs called Deadly River: Cholera and Cover-Up in Post-Earthquake Haiti.

In the book, Frerichs also makes a good case that the agency used maps as tools of diversion. In one crucial map distributed in early 2011, he writes, the agency scrambled the order of dates for when cholera arrived in Haiti’s different regions, or départements—making it seem as if the disease had appeared on the coast before showing up near the U.N. base. Citing the CDC’s own manual, “How to Investigate an Outbreak,” which in his words emphasizes the “importance of correctly identifying infectious disease cases and then using a frequency distribution of the onset dates to estimate the outbreak’s start time,” Frerichs writes:

CDC had ignored its own standard procedure by using the “first confirmed case” in its Haiti Cholera Outbreak map of mid-February 2011. It based the onset time on laboratory confirmation, which falsely implied that cholera had first appeared on October 21 in downriver Artibonite département, then two days later in Ouest département, and finally a day after that, October 24, in upriver Centre département—findings entirely different from Piarroux’s and the Haitian public health team’s.

The timing of that map was crucial, because a panel of experts appointed, under pressure, by Ban was on its way to investigate the source of the outbreak:

Piarroux suspected that CDC had released the map in anticipation of the UN panel’s arrival in Haiti and was helping the UN shift attention away from the Nepalese peacekeeping base in Centre département. Implying that cholera had started elsewhere served that purpose.

It was the first in a series of online maps from CDC that used the poorest available measure to show when cholera had first appeared in Haiti’s ten départements. The CDC information remained widely circulated through updates in September 2011.

In rare a moment of clarity, as evidence mounted, Scott F. Dowell, then director of the CDC’s global disease and emergency response division, talked openly of political considerations in the agency’s response: “We’re going to be really cautious about the Nepal thing because it’s a politically sensitive issue for our partners in Haiti.”

The map flags the epicenter of the cholera infection, and surprise, it's right at the location of the Nepalese UN peacekeeper camp at the time in late 2010.


So yes, this is something that falls on the shoulders of the UN, and in part the US.  Realpolitik and diplomacy sucks, folks, only in this case thousands have died and hundreds of thousands have been sickened, and the cholera epidemic has been going on in Haiti now for almost six years.

There are a lot of questions that need to be answered by the UN about Haiti.  Quite a lot.

Bernie Takes A Shot (Back)

It seems even Bernie Sanders can be pushed to the left on some positions in a primary season.

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Sunday said Sandy Hook victims should be able to sue gun manufacturers for the 2012 elementary school shooting that killed 20 students and six adults, backtracking on previous comments.“Of course they have a right to sue, anyone has a right to sue,” the Vermont senator said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Sanders in an interview with the New York Daily News last week initially said the Sandy Hook family members should not have the right to sue gun manufacturers for damages.

"No, I don't," he said, in response to a question from the editorial board.

Rival Hillary Clinton attacked Sanders for those comments, calling his stance “unimaginable” and one of her “biggest contrasts” with the Vermont senator.

Sanders on Sunday said that a gun store owner who legally sells a weapon shouldn't be held liable for crimes committed with it.

He said he opposes the sales of assault-style weapons in the U.S., such as the one used at Sandy Hook.

"That's the kind of weapon that caused the horrible tragedy in Sandy Hook," Sanders said. "Those weapons should not be made in the United States of America. So in that sense, I agree with the Sandy Hook parents."

He was taking quite a bit of damage on this particular issue.  Guns have always been Sanders's weak point, where he's waaaaaaaay to the right of Clinton.  Glad to see even he can change his positions.

You know, like Clinton has.


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