WH Finally Responds to Petition Demanding Release of Marine Held in Mexico
As our Marine sergeant sits inside a Mexican prison rotting, concerned American citizens across the nation signed a petition on the White House website demanding the Obama Administration fight for the release of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi.
On Friday, the White House finally responded to the petition and set up a response on their main page. Contained in their response was the news that they have put windbag John Kerry at the helm of the investigation, so I’m sure he’s working tirelessly in between his vacations at the Hamptons and working on his rad windsurfing moves to get our Marine released.
The U.S. State Department continues to provide extensive consular assistance to Mr. Tahmooressi, and will do so until his case is resolved. As in all cases when a U.S. citizen is arrested overseas, our goal is to see that Mr. Tahmooressi is treated fairly during the judicial process with the hope that he can receive the support, both emotional and medical, that he may require now and at the conclusion of the proceedings.
Mexico is one of the United States’ most important partners. We have close economic and cultural ties, and we work closely with them on numerous sensitive issues. While we will not go into detail about our private diplomatic discussions on this case, U.S. officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have spoken to Mexican officials at the highest levels regarding Mr. Tahmooressi’s case.
Mexican authorities have been very willing to engage on this issue. They have provided prompt and continued consular access and visitations. As a result, the State Department has been able to provide regular updates on Mr. Tahmooressi’s condition to his family, Members of Congress, and the press.
We respect the rule of law and expect the judicial process of sovereign nations to protect other U.S. citizens who might find themselves in similar circumstances in the future. We will continue to monitor the case and work with the Mexican authorities as this case proceeds through the Mexican judicial system. We continue to urge the Mexican authorities to process this case expeditiously.
I have little faith that this is really an issue Obama is losing sleep over. If the man can watch a video of our American journalist getting his head sawed off by ISIS militants, and then five minutes later skip off jovially to the golf course for another round, I think he has a set of priorities which don’t involve wrongfully imprisoned Marines in Mexican prisons.
Police said there was no suspicion of foul play, meaning Sofer’s death was not a militant or criminal attack. Photograph: Sebastian Scheiner/AP
Israeli police say a recently found body has been identified as that of a US religious student who disappeared while hiking in Jerusalem last week.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the body was confirmed early on Friday morning to be that of seminary student Aharon Sofer. She said there was no suspicion of foul play, meaning Sofer’s death was not a militant attack or a criminal attack.
Samri had no further details on how Sofer died.
The body was found on Thursday night in the same area where Sofer disappeared last week. The 23-year-old, from Lakewood, New Jersey, had been hiking with a friend in a hilly, forested area on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Sofer’s parents had flown to Israel to assist with the search.
Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly launched airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation of a regional power struggle set off by Arab Spring revolts.
The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied to American diplomats that their military played any role in the operation, the officials said, in what appeared a new blow to already strained relations between Washington and Cairo.
The strikes in Tripoli are another destabilizing salvo in a power struggle defined by old-style Arab autocrats battling Islamist movements seeking to overturn the old order. Since the military ouster of the Islamist president in Egypt last year, the new government and its backers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have launched a campaign across the region — in the news media, in politics and diplomacy, and by arming local proxies — to roll back what they see as an existential threat to their authority posed by Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.
Arrayed against them and backing the Islamists are the rival states of Turkey and Qatar.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were murdered by jihadists in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 at a U.S. embassy. Last month, the U.S. closed its embassy in Tripoli due to threats by Islamists.
It’s believed that Egypt and the UAE acted without Obama because the White House administration refused to support airstrikes against Islamists in Tripoli.
US doctor with Ebola arrives in Atlanta for treatment
ATLANTA (AP) – The first Ebola victim to be brought to the United States from Africa was safely escorted into a specialized isolation unit Saturday at one of the nation’s best hospitals, where doctors said they are confident the deadly virus won’t escape.
Fear that the outbreak killing more than 700 people in Africa could spread in the U.S. has generated considerable anxiety among some Americans. But infectious disease experts said the public faces zero risk as Emory University Hospital treats a critically ill missionary doctor and a charity worker who were infected in Liberia.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received “nasty emails” and at least 100 calls from people saying “How dare you bring Ebola into the country!?” CDC Director Tom Frieden told The Associated Press Saturday.
“I hope that our understandable fear of the unfamiliar does not trump our compassion when ill Americans return to the U.S. for care,” Frieden said.
Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who will arrive in several days, will be treated in Emory’s isolation unit for infectious diseases, created 12 years ago handle doctors who get sick at the CDC, just up the hill. It is one of about four in the country, equipped with everything necessary to test and treat people exposed to very dangerous viruses.
In 2005, it handled patients with SARS, which unlike Ebola can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
In fact, the nature of Ebola – which is spread by close contact with bodily fluids and blood – means that any modern hospital using standard, rigorous, infection-control measures should be able to handle it.
Still, Emory won’t be taking any chances.
“Nothing comes out of this unit until it is non-infectious,” said Dr. Bruce Ribner, who will be treating the patients. “The bottom line is: We have an inordinate amount of safety associated with the care of this patient. And we do not believe that any health care worker, any other patient or any visitor to our facility is in any way at risk of acquiring this infection.”
Brantly was flown from Africa to Dobbins Air Reserve base outside Atlanta in a small plane equipped to contain infectious diseases, and a small police escort followed his ambulance to the hospital. He climbed out dressed head to toe in white protective clothing, and another person in an identical hazardous materials suit held both of his gloved hands as they walked gingerly inside.
“It was a relief to welcome Kent home today. I spoke with him, and he is glad to be back in the U.S.,” said his wife, Amber Brantly, who left Africa with their two young children for a wedding in the U.S. days before the doctor fell ill.
“I am thankful to God for his safe transport and for giving him the strength to walk into the hospital,” her statement said.
Inside the unit, patients are sealed off from anyone who doesn’t wear protective gear.
“Negative air pressure” means air flows in, but can’t escape until filters scrub any germs from patients. All laboratory testing is conducted within the unit, and workers are highly trained in infection control. Glass walls enable staff outside to safely observe patients, and there’s a vestibule where workers suit up before entering. Any gear is safely disposed of or decontaminated.
Family members will be kept outside for now.
The unit “has a plate glass window and communication system, so they’ll be as close as 1-2 inches from each other,” Ribner said.
Dr. Jay Varkey, an infectious disease specialist who will be treating Brantly and Writebol, gave no word Saturday about their condition. Both were described as critically ill after treating Ebola patients at a missionary hospital in Liberia, one of four West African countries hit by the largest outbreak of the virus in history.
There is no proven cure for the virus. It kills an estimated 60 percent to 80 percent of the people it infects, but American doctors in Africa say the mortality rate would be much lower in a functioning health care system.
The virus causes hemorrhagic fever, headaches and weakness that can escalate to vomiting, diarrhea and kidney and liver problems. Some patients bleed internally and externally.
There are experimental treatments, but Brantly had only enough for one person, and insisted that his colleague receive it. His best hope in Africa was the transfusion of blood he received including antibodies from one of his patients, a 14-year-old boy who survived thanks to the doctor.
There was also only room on the plane for one patient at a time. Writebol will follow in several days.
Dr. Philip Brachman, an Emory public health specialist who led the CDC’s disease detectives program for many years, said Friday that since there is no cure, medical workers will try any modern therapy that can be done, such as better monitoring of fluids, electrolytes and vital signs.
“We depend on the body’s defenses to control the virus,” Dr. Ribner said. “We just have to keep the patient alive long enough in order for the body to control this infection.”
Just down the street from the hospital, people dined, shopped and carried on with their lives Saturday. Several interviewed by the AP said the patients are coming to the right place.
“We’ve got the best facilities in the world to deal with this stuff,” said Kevin Whalen, who lives in Decatur, Ga., and has no connection to Emory or the CDC. “With the resources we can throw at it, it’s the best chance this guy has for survival. And it’s probably also the best chance to develop treatments and cures and stuff that we can take back overseas so that it doesn’t come back here.”
The patient is expected to arrive “within the next several days”, the university said in a statement. The exact date of arrival is not yet known. The university did not give the patient’s name.
“Emory University Hospital has a specially built isolation unit set up in collaboration with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to treat patients who are exposed to certain serious infectious diseases. It is physically separate from other patient areas and has unique equipment and infrastructure that provide an extraordinarily high level of clinical isolation,” the university said.
Reuters is reporting that the patient is one of the two American humanitarian aid workers infected with Ebola while responding to the outbreak in Liberia. Dr Kent Brantly of Texas and Nancy Writebol, a missionary from North Carolina, have both showed signs of improvement, but remain in serious condition.
The disease, which has no known cure, has reportedly killed at least 700 people during the current outbreak, in which there have been more than 1,000 confirmed, probable or suspected infections.
Exactly where are the happiest places in America? The answer apparently has nothing to with Disney.
According to a working paper from researchers at Harvard University and the University of British Columbia, the five happiest cities in the U.S. all happen to be located in one state: Louisiana, which also ranks as the happiest state.
Specifically, the list-toppers are Lafayette, Houma, Shreveport-Bossier City, Baton Rouge and Alexandria.
Rounding out the top 10 happiest cities are Rochester, Minnesota; Corpus Christi, Texas; Lake Charles, Louisiana; Nashville, Tennessee; and Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
The paper, co-authored by Harvard professor Edward Glaeser, UBC Vancouver School of Economics professor Joshua Gottlieb and Harvard doctoral student Oren Ziv, used data from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey titled the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
It was adjusted for age, sex, race, income and other factors, as women, for example, are happier than men, and married couples are happier than single or divorced respondents.
On the other end of the spectrum, the unhappiest cities had New York City topping the list, followed by St. Joseph, Missouri; South Bend, Indiana; Erie, Pennsylvania; Evansville, Indiana–Henderson, Kentucky; Toledo, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Jersey City, New Jersey; Gary, Indiana; and Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, Pennsylvania.
“Nearly all of the unhappiest places in the nation lean heavily Democratic when it comes to voting,” noted Caroline Schaeffer of the Independent Journal Review.
Among the goals of the study was to explain why many “unhappy” cities were still seeing population growth. After all, why would people move there if it were such an awful place?
“Self-reported unhappiness is high in [many] declining cities, and this tendency persists even when we control for income, race and other personal characteristics,” the authors write. “Why are the residents of some cities persistently less happy? Given that they are, why do people choose to live in unhappy places?”
The report concludes many of the unhappy cities have always been so according to limited data. Higher wages play a role in enticing people to move to unhappy places, as does lower housing costs. The authors write:
“Differences in happiness and subjective well-being across space weakly support the view that the desires for happiness and life satisfaction do not uniquely drive human ambitions. If we choose only that which maximized our happiness, then individuals would presumably move to happier places until the point where rising rents and congestion eliminated the joys of that locale.”
“An alternative view is that humans are quite understandably willing to sacrifice both happiness and life satisfaction if the price is right. … Indeed, the residents of unhappier metropolitan areas today do receive higher real wages – presumably as compensation for their misery.”
NEW YORK – In recent weeks, both General David Petraeus and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have woven into public speeches the theme of combining the United States, Canada and Mexico into a single, North American Union.
“After America, there is North America,” explained Petraeus, the former U.S. military commander and former head of the CIA, to a panel entitled “After America, What?” held at the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty on June 18, 2014, hosted by the Center for Policy Studies in Great Britain.
In his presentation to the conference, Petraeus proclaimed the coming of the “North American decade,” a vision he explained was founded on the idea of putting together the economies of the United States, Canada and Mexico, some 20 years after the creation of North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.
“In each of these economies there are four revolutions going on,” Petraeus continued, naming the following: an energy revolution, in which the United States is leading the world in the production of natural gas and shale oil, combined with Canada’s enormous resources in the Alberta tar sands and Mexico opening up the state-owned Pemex to international oil companies; an information and technology revolution led by Silicon Valley; a manufacturing revolution; and a life sciences revolution.
“The forces unleashed by these four revolutions with all three countries being as highly integrated as they are, with Canada and Mexico being our two top trading partners, I believe we can argue that after America comes North America,” Petraeus explained.
“This seminar will seek to answer the question, ‘Are we on the threshold of the new (North) American decade(s)?’ To do so, we will: survey the global economic situation; examine the ongoing energy, manufacturing, life sciences, and information technology ‘revolutions’ in the United Sates; assess the implications each revolution has for the U.S. and the global economy; and determine the policies, practices, regulations, and laws needed to enable the U.S. to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the revolutions and thereby to contribute to the global economic recovery from the Great Recession.”
An examination of the assigned reading specified in the course syllabus shows Petraeus has derived much of his thinking from global economic sources in trying to project the future of North America in competition with major regional forces including China, the EU, as well as Russia, India and Brazil.
Pelosi sees U.S. and Mexico as “one nation”
Speaking at the U.S. Border with Mexico on June 28, Pelosi addressed the crisis of thousands of unaccompanied children and teenagers from Central America illegally crossing into the United States.
Referring to the United States and Mexico, Pelosi said, “This is a community with a border going through it. And this crisis – that some call a ‘crisis’ – we have to view as an opportunity.
“What we just saw was so stunning. If you believe as we do that every child, that every person, has a spark of divinity in them and is therefore worthy of respect, what we saw in those rooms was [a] dazzling, sparkling array of God’s children, worthy of respect. So … we have to use the crisis – that some view as a crisis, and it does have crisis qualities – as an opportunity to show who we are as Americans, that we do respect people for their divinity and worth,” she said.
This past week Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee held a hearing about the potential impact of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) bomb over America.
An EMP is caused by the detonation of a high-altitude nuclear bomb which sends a massive surge that fries anything electrical. It destroys anything with a microchip, the entire electric grid, and all vehicles built after the mid-1980s.
McCaul opened the hearing entitled, “Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP): Threat to Critical Infrastructure,” saying an EMP would be far more catastrophic than even ground-level nuclear bombs. (watch video below)
“Some would say it’s low probability, but the damage that could be caused in the event of an EMP attack, both by the sun, a solar event, or a man-made attack, would be catastrophic,” said McCaul.
“We talk a lot about a nuclear bomb in Manhattan, and cybersecurity threat to the power grid in the Northeast, and all of these things would actually probably pale in comparison to the devastation that an EMP attack could perpetrate on Americans.”
“Natural EMP from a geomagnetic super-storm, like the 1859 Carrington Event or 1921 Railroad Storm, and nuclear EMP attack from terrorists or rogue states, as practiced by North Korea during the nuclear crisis of 2013, are both existential threats that could kill 9 of 10 Americans through starvation, disease, and societal collapse,” Pry told the committee.
The purpose of the EMP hearing was to advance H.R. 3410To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to secure critical infrastructure against electromagnetic pulses, and for other purposes.
The general aim of the resolution is to appropriate funding to research “a comprehensive plan to protect and prepare the critical infrastructure of the American homeland against EMP events.”
WASHINGTON — A Russian fighter jet intercepted an American reconnaissance plane in international airspace over the Pacific in late April, prompting top officials to complain to senior Russian military officials, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.
Army Col. Steve Warren, the spokesman, said the Russian Su-27 fighter flew across the nose of the U.S. Air Force RC-135U aircraft, coming within about 100 feet (30 meters), while in international airspace over the Sea of Okhotsk.
Warren said the U.S. plane did not take any evasive measures. The Russian pilot maneuvered his jet in a way that exposed its belly to the American crew, he said, apparently as a way of showing that it was armed. Warren said there was no radio communication between the two planes’ crews.
He said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both raised the matter later with their Russian counterparts.
Warren said he could not explain why the incident, which happened April 23, was not made public earlier. It is the latest source of concern for U.S. officials since a heightening of U.S.-Russian tensions following Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine. In mid-April a Russian Su-24 fighter made low-level passes over a U.S. Navy ship in the Black Sea.
An RC-135U is a highly specialized reconnaissance plane known as “Combat Sent.” There are only two such planes in the U.S. Air Force; both are assigned to the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. Their crews are from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron and the 97th Intelligence Squadron of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency.
The “Combat Sent” aircraft are equipped with communications gear designed to locate and identify foreign military radar signals on land, at sea and in the air. The crew is composed of two pilots, one navigator, two airborne systems engineers, at least 10 electronic warfare officers and six or more technical and other specialists.