Author Archives: DCG

“Who wants their son to live the life of a handicapped person? Maybe some families want this, but we don’t.”

AFP Photo

AFP Photo

France24: Parents of an extremely premature baby, currently in hospital in the city of Poitiers, have asked doctors to take their child off life support, or “passive euthanasia”. The doctors, however, say they need more time to evaluate the baby’s condition.

“We made this decision over a week ago,” said the baby’s mother, Mélanie, who was interviewed by France Info. “Who wants their son to live the life of a handicapped person? Maybe some families want this, but we don’t.”

The baby boy, named Titouan, was born on 31 August, four months before his due date. He weighed just under 2lb at birth and suffered from an intracerebral haemorrhage. For now, the doctors at the University Hospital Center of Poitiers (CHU) are unable to judge the extent of the damage to his brain.

“If we want to be able to fully understand the consequences [of the haemorrhage], we can’t rush this. We need a few weeks to evaluate his condition,” said Professor Fabrice Pierre, of the department of gynecology and obstetrics at Poitiers CHU, on French TV channel France Bleu. “Currently, we are not giving him intensive treatment; we are simply giving him life support to give us the time to do a proper evaluation.”

The baby’s parents, Mélanie and Aurélien, who are both in their 30s, say that doctors have already told them that their son will be paralysed on one side and that it is very likely he will be “severely disabled.”

They accuse the “inhumane” doctors of prolonging their son’s suffering.

Currently, euthanasia is illegal in France, though the 2005 law says that doctors are allowed to end or refrain from using treatments or care that result in the artificial prolongation of life, as long as the family agrees with the doctor’s decision. This is often referred to as “passive euthanasia,” or withholding treatments necessary to the continuation of life.

Importantly, the 2005 law also puts the decision in the hands of the doctors.
Faced with the repeated demands of Titouan’s parents, CHU’s neonatal unit sought out the advice of an ethics panel. They have yet to make a decision.

Earlier in the year, French President François Hollande announced that the government planned to enact a tightly-framed law allowing “medical assistance to end one’s life in dignity”.

Close to nine out of ten French people (89%) interviewed said they would be in favour of a law authorising euthanasia, according to a survey published in French daily Le Parisien at the end of June.

In situations when a person is too sick to make the decision themselves, 53% said the family should make the decision, 41% said a doctor should only 6% said a judge should make the decision.

In June, The Council of State, France’s top administrative court ruled in favour of so-called passive euthanasia in the high-profile case of Vincent Lambert, a tetraplegic patient who has been in a state of minimal consciousness for the past six years.

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DCG

Obama administration forcing new gun buyers to declare race, ethnicity

obama gun gesture

Washington Times: The Obama administration quietly has been forcing new gun buyers to declare their race and ethnicity, a policy change that critics say provides little law enforcement value while creating the risk of privacy intrusions and racial profiling.

With little fanfare, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2012 amended its Form 4473 — the transactional record the government requires gun purchasers and sellers to fill out when buying a firearm — to identify buyers as either Hispanic, Latino or not. Then a buyer must check his or her race: Indian, Asian, black, Pacific Islander or white.

The amendment is causing a headache for gun retailers, as each box needs to be checked off or else it’s an ATF violation — severe enough for the government to shut a business down. Many times people skip over the Hispanic/Latino box and only check their race, or vice versa — both of which are federal errors that can be held against the dealer.

Requiring the race and ethnic information of gun buyers is not required by federal law and provides little law enforcement value, legal experts say. And gun industry officials worry about how the information is being used and whether it constitutes an unnecessary intrusion on privacy.

“This issue concerns me deeply because, first, it’s offensive, and, secondly, there’s no need for it,” said Evan Nappen, a private practice firearms lawyer in New Jersey. “If there’s no need for an amendment, then there’s usually a political reason for the change. What this indicates is it was done for political reasons, not law enforcement reasons.”

ATF said the change came about because it needed to update its forms to comply with an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reporting standard put into effect during the Clinton administration. The ATF declined to comment on why race and ethnicity information are needed in the first place or what they are used for. On its prior 4473 forms, the bureau had been collecting race data.

OMB’s race and ethnicity standards require agencies to ask both race and ethnicity in a specific manner (as done on [Form 4473]), and agencies may not ask for one without asking for the other,” wrote Elizabeth Gosselin, a spokeswoman for the ATF, in an emailed response to The Washington Times. She did not say why the agency suddenly made the change in response to a rule that was more than a decade old.

For ATF to ask for a purchaser’s race and ethnicity is not specifically authorized under federal statute, and since a government-issued photo ID — like a driver’s license — and a background check are already required by law to purchase a gun, the ethnicity/race boxes aren’t there for identification reasons, Mr. Nappen said.

“There is nothing [in ATF or OMB’s website links addressing the change in policy] that supports the requirement that ATF collect race-based information. The OMB guidance merely describes what categories of race should look like if information is collected,” Laura Murphy, the American Civil Liberties Union director for legislative affairs in Washington, said in an emailed statement.

In addition, Mrs. Murphy notes, the OMB guidance was supposed to be implemented by 2003; there’s no information given why ATF decided to make this change almost a decade later, she said. “If there is a civil rights enforcement reason for the ATF to collect this data, I have not heard that explanation from ATF or any other federal agency,” said Mrs. Murphy.

Both the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza — the nation’s largest national Hispanic civil rights group — declined comment.

The 4473 form is supposed to be kept in a gun retailer’s possession at all times — allowing ATF agents to inspect the form only during the course of a criminal investigation or during a random audit of the dealer. The form is to be kept out of the hands of the government, hence the distinction between “sales/transaction form” and “registration form.” But that isn’t always the case, gun rights advocates say.

“We’ve been contacted by several dealers saying ATF is or has been making wholesale copies of their 4473 forms, and it’s just not legal,” said Erich Pratt, spokesman for Gun Owners of America, a gun advocacy group. “If this is what they’re doing somewhat out in the open, what’s going on behind closed doors? Are these names and demographic information getting phoned [in and] punched into a government computer? Do they ever come out?

During the time ATF revised its 4473 form to include Hispanic or Latino as an ethnicity, the Obama administration was building gun control cases by saying U.S. firearms dealers were supplying Mexican gangs with weapons and that violence related to the sales was seeping across the border.

Hillary

In March 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Mexico City and gave a speech against American gun stores and owners — blaming them for the drug cartels’ violence. Mrs. Clinton subsequently told CBS News that “90 percent” of the “guns that are used by the drug cartels against the police and military” actually “come from America.”

Eric Holder

About a week later, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. made the same points at a gun trafficking conference outside of Mexico City. In April, the president himself flew down to Mexico to inform President Felipe Calderon that Mr. Holder was going to review U.S. law enforcement operations, according to a 2011 report by the American Thinker.

This political worldview may have fueled decision-making at ATF, Mr. Nappen suggests. Around the same time that ATF started specifying “Latino/Hispanic” on their U.S. purchasing forms, they also required border firearms dealers in Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico to start reporting multiple rifle sales.

In 2012, when ATF made the Form 4473 modification, they insisted their new reporting requirement for multiple rifle sales in those border states had led to “follow-up investigations involving transactions that might indicate firearms trafficking activities.”

“Was it coincidental [that] about the time the form changed the requirements came in that border states had to report multiple rifle sales, and there was a push in the antigun movement to claim American guns were arming Mexican cartels south of the border?” asked Mr. Nappen.

Although gun advocates speculate on the reasoning behind changing the form, on one thing they are clear: Requiring ethnicity and race to purchase a gun is a clear government overstep, violating Second Amendment rights.

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“It’s an overreach, not authorized by Congress, taken upon [by ATF] unilaterally,” said Mr. Pratt. “The president has said his biggest frustration has been not getting gun control enacted — but we can see he’s been very active with his phone and his pen. And this certainly — either intentionally or unintentionally — feeds that notion.”

DCG

2 US troops, 1 Polish sergeant killed in bombing near US Embassy in Kabul

taliban

Stars and Stripes: Two U.S. servicemembers and a Polish soldier were killed Tuesday when a suicide bomber struck a convoy of vehicles near the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul, officials said.

The International Security Assistance Force said three of its servicemembers died “as a result of an enemy attack” in Kabul, but did not disclose the nationalities. Five ISAF members were reported wounded.

In Washington a defense official said two of the three fatalities were Americans. The third was a Polish sergeant, the Poland’s Defense Ministry said.

Separately, another coalition soldier was killed on Monday in an apparent insider attack in western Afghanistan, an ISAF statement said. A Pentagon official said the victim was an American.

Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack.

A Polish military spokesman identified the dead Polish servicemember as Sgt. Rafal Celebudzki. The spokesman told The Associated Press that Celebudzki was driving one of the vehicles that was struck in the bombing. He said two other Polish soldiers were among the wounded.

Hashmat Stanikzai, spokesman for the Kabul police, said that 13 civilians were wounded in the blast and that 17 civilian vehicles were damaged. An Interior Ministry statement condemned the attack and said it was carried out by the “enemies of peace.”

The attack occurred on the busy airport road, which is frequently jammed with rush-hour traffic early in the morning. Roads around the scene of the attack were blocked by security personnel. Windows on nearby government ministries and other buildings were broken.

A Taliban spokesman said a guerrilla named Bilal had driven an explosives-laden Toyota Corolla into the convoy driving through the capital.

“Bilal waited for this attack for a couple of days, watching the same road to make sure it would be accurate,” spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a telephone interview. “He targeted the middle of the convoy in order to avoid civilian casualties.”

The attack came amid a prolonged political crisis stemming from accusations of irregularities in the presidential election. A U.N.-supervised audit of the 8 million ballots cast was completed last week, but the results have still not been announced because the two candidates, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, disagree on the count.

The impasse and the resulting delay in the transfer of power from current President Hamid Karzai has raised concerns about Afghanistan’s political stability at a time of increased insurgent activity ahead of the coming withdrawal of all foreign combat troops at the end of this year.

RIP Soldiers.

DCG

This is rich: DiCaprio named U.N. messenger of peace for climate

hypocrite2

Reuters: Hollywood actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio has been named a United Nations Messenger of Peace, a post he will use to raise awareness about climate change, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday.

DiCaprio will address a U.N. summit meeting on climate change on Sept. 23, a day before the U.N. General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders begins. Many leaders from the 193 member states of the United Nations are expected to attend the climate session.

Leo flying on a carbon-spewing private jet

Leo flying on a carbon-spewing private jet

“Leonardo DiCaprio is not just one of the world’s leading actors,” Ban said. “He has also a long-standing commitment to environmental causes, including through his foundation.”

In 1998, the actor established the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, whose mission is protecting Earth’s last wild places and building a more harmonious relationship between humanity and the natural world, the United Nations said in a statement. The organization has contributed funds toward protecting tigers in Nepal, elephants in the wild, and marine animals, including sharks.

“I feel a moral obligation to speak out at this key moment in human history – it is a moment for action,” DiCaprio was quoted as saying in the statement. “How we respond to the climate crisis in the coming years will likely determine the fate of humanity and our planet.”

DiCaprio, 39, added that it was an honor for him to accept the post.

The Academy Award-nominated star of “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “The Aviator” joins other celebrities past and present, from Audrey Hepburn to Angelina Jolie, who have represented various U.N. organizations.

There are currently 11 other messengers of peace and one goodwill ambassador, the United Nations said. Other messengers who advise the world body on a variety of issues include actors Michael Douglas and Charlize Theron and author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

Well isn’t that special? The UN has an environmental hypocrite to raise awareness about climate change. Figures.

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DCG

It’s good to be king: SF Labor Council backs porn-loving, long-term union honcho

Union king pin Mazzola

Union king pin Mazzola

SFGate: In an extraordinary move, 20 members of the San Francisco Labor Council met privately with Mayor Ed Lee the other day to urge him to reappoint longtime plumbers union honcho Larry Mazzola to an unprecedented sixth term on the powerful Airport Commission.

Labor apparently felt the need to flex its muscle because questions have risen over why Mazzola tried to swing a job for his nephew at San Francisco International Airport, and because relations with Lee have grown rocky – notably, over the mayor’s desire to flush highly paid union plumbers from the money-poor Housing Authority.

Tim Paulson

Tim Paulson

“It’s difficult for the Labor Council to find consensus on many things, but we have all come together and are unanimous in our support for Larry Mazzola to be reappointed,” said the council’s executive director, Tim Paulson.

Mazzola has served on the Airport Commission for 20 years, and his plumbers union leader father, Joe Mazzola, also served on the commission.

“This is not an Airport Commission seat – this is a Mazzola seat,” quipped one former San Francisco supervisor.

But as we reported in this column, Mazzola – by his own admission – helped his nephew land a new job at the airport after he was forced to resign from another position at SFO for having porn on his work computer.

Mazzola later pushed to have the nephew considered for permanent assignment to the $86,000-a-year job, even after he pleaded no contest to assaulting his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

At the time, Lee said he was disturbed by the revelations. The mayor has also been less than thrilled by Mazzola’s refusal to play along with Lee’s efforts to reform the trouble-plagued Housing Authority.

Facing a backlog of costly repairs, the mayor wanted the union, United Association Local 38, to agree to allow cheaper maintenance technicians to do routine handiwork such as unplugging toilets. When the plumbers balked, Lee went ahead without their blessing. Now the union is taking legal action to stop the change.

mafia

Lee may not care for Mazzola’s actions, but cutting him loose would cause him political problems. Mazzola is not only a favorite of the hard-hat building trade groups, but he also has the strong backing of the progressive restaurant workers union, in part because he has made sure airport concessions are union shops.

“Mazzola has been on the front line of supporting working people at the airport, whether it’s the baggage handlers or the screeners or our members in food service,” said Mike Casey, head of Unite Here Local 2, which represents hospitality workers at the airport.

Mazzola has served as president of the Airport Commission for 11 years. Although his commission term officially ran out Aug. 31, Lee has until the end of October to make the reappointment call – and so far has given no hint of which way he is leaning.

However, the mayor is definitely looking ahead to the Nov. 4 vote on his $500 million transportation bond, not to mention his re-election campaign next year – and for both, he’ll need all the union help he can get.

DCG

Boston Globe front page “news”: At a White House rich in coffee lore, no word on president’s preference

lapdogmedia

Boston Globe: A recipe for beer brewed by the White House? The Obama administration happily shares it. A list of wines served at state dinners? No problem. But what about the First Family’s coffee habits? My mug is empty. Security concerns are initially cited. Then e-mails go unreturned. Caffeine consumption in the West Wing has, apparently, become a state secret.

For an administration that loves to talk about the importance of local food, especially when it comes from the celebrated White House vegetable garden, it turns out that the Obama White House makes it nearly impossible to find the source of its coffee and how it is prepared.

Hard-hitting journalist Matt Viser

Hard-hitting journalist Matt Viser

As a reporter covering the president in Washington — and as a passionate coffee drinker — I have sustained an enduring quest to figure out how the people inside one of the most intense work environments in the world get their caffeine fix.

Yes, the mysteries of ISIS or Russian President Vladimir Putin are more pressing. But coffee has currency within the White House. It is the fuel for peace summits, the jolt behind major speeches, and the lubricant for making world-altering decisions. The transition of two presidents traditionally involves a pre-inauguration cup of coffee between the sitting president and his soon-to-be successor.

Look at almost any photo of a meeting inside the Situation Room — from the killing of Osama bin Laden to preparations for a hurricane — and coffee cups are spread around the table. When foreign dignitaries come to visit, they are offered coffee. When top White House staffers need a charge for early mornings and late nights, there are urns full of Starbucks and longtime D.C.-based roaster ME Swings coffee waiting inside the exclusive dining room known as the White House Mess.

But what is served in the residence? Or when the White House pulls out all the stops for a state dinner? And is the First Lady a loyal coffee drinker? No answers from the Obama administration.

Over the years, presidential candidates on the campaign trail show their taste for coffee by sipping diner brews in New Hampshire and Iowa. Once in office, coffee can become as intertwined with a president’s daily rituals as the morning briefing or the presidential motorcade leaving from the South Lawn.

“It was enjoyed every day,” said John Moeller, who served three presidents working in the White House kitchen from 1992 to 2005.

Thomas Jefferson, who stocked his cellar at Monticello with beans imported from the East and West Indies, deemed coffee “the favorite drink of the civilised world.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked White House staff to bring him a dark French roast with a coffee maker on the tray, so he could brew it to his liking.

Perhaps the truest barista-in-chief was Teddy Roosevelt, who had a coffee cup so sizable, his son once said, that was “more in the nature of a bathtub.” Roosevelt was also the one, legend has it, that said Maxwell House was “Good to the last drop,” coining what would become the coffee company’s catch-phrase.

During a White House renovation in the late 1990s, the kitchen staff had some money left over and decided to spring for a large espresso machine.

“We said what the heck, we could fit that into our kitchen,” said Moeller, a chef for the Clinton and both Bush administrations. “We were making espresso drinks for the first lady. Both Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Bush enjoyed a nice latte in the afternoon. It wasn’t unusual getting a call at 1 or 2 in the afternoon: ‘Time for a latte.’ ”

In the residence, Moeller said, there was a Mr. Coffee drip machine, while downstairs there was a larger machine to serve the masses. Several French press devices were kept nearby, but were rarely used.

This brings us to Obama, whose history-making bid for the presidency apparently extends to the kitchen. The White House’s current chief occupant may not even be consuming whatever beans they’re buying.

That’s right. Obama, who has been bedeviled by the Tea Party and whose critics say he needs a little more pep in his step, is himself partial to tea.

obamateaStudy photos of Obama — in the Oval Office, aboard Air Force One, inside the Situation Room — and he almost always has a cream-colored, gold-trimmed porcelain cup in front of him. But inside those cups, aides say, is almost certainly tea (his favorite is Black Forest Berry made by Honest Tea).

“Very honestly, I do not recall him drinking coffee ever,” said Arun Chaudhary, his former videographer. “Obama’s not really a coffee drinker,” said Jon Favreau, who is the president’s former speech writer and most definitely a coffee drinker, often grabbing a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts on his way into work. “I’ve seen him order tea quite a few times but never coffee.”

When the president stepped into Starbucks recently, he emerged with a cup of tea. When he went to a specialty coffee shop in Missouri, he left with a cup of iced Earl Grey. When the barista offered tea with lavender, he responded, “I’m not confident enough to order that.”

Despite the boss’s indifference, the White House does care where its coffee comes from. They’re just not saying, citing “security of the White House food supply.”

Do they serve Dunkin’ Donuts? No, says Dunkin’. Is Starbucks the provider? They seem to suggest not (although one informed source suggests so).

The White House Mess, which is operated by the US Navy, served Dunkin’ Donuts from 2006 through the end of 2011. This was a joy for many of the Massachusetts natives who occupied the White House during the Obama administration. But Dunkin’ chose not to renew the contract, wanting its coffee to be served only at franchised locations.

Maybe the Obama White House relies on Intelligentsia, the roaster from his hometown Chicago? (Company officials say no, but the president was known to visit one of their stores before he ran for president). What about Blue Bottle, the buzzy brewer out of California? (They insist no, although they once served the First Lady a French press brew during a breakfast fund-raiser in Berkeley).

To those who may think the Obamas could actually be growing beans in the White House garden, think again. It’s too cold. “It’s all to do with climate. You’re talking ideal 5,000 to 6,000 feet of altitude with 75 degree average — no higher than 86 no lower than 50,” says George Howell, a Massachusetts-based pioneer of the specialty coffee movement.

Read the rest of this hard-hitting piece of journalism here.

Closing: I go through more coffee than that in about two years. As to where the rest of the coffee may be coming from, Americans want answers! OK, maybe just this American does. But the White House seems willing to let the mystery endure.

ISIS? Benghazi? Iraq? Boko Haram? IRS? The economy? Illegals? Meh, what does the president drink?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Glad to know the State Run Media is on top of things.

DCG

Monday funnies!

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DCG