Blue State Blues: California Republicans Waste Crucial Rebuilding Year

California governor Jerry Brown is riding so high in the polls that there is virtually no political force that can stop him. In retrospect, his success was almost guaranteed once he convinced California voters to approve a “temporary” tax hike in 2012’s Proposition 30 (one that Democrats now want to make permanent). That, plus a modest economic recovery, increased revenues enough to allow him to concoct a widely-hailed surplus.

Republicans considered the 2014 elections a chance to rebuild and rebrand the party–to make the most of a losing scenario by angling the party for long-term growth. Wealthy donors poured money into the gubernatorial primary, for example, boosting millennial-friendly Treasury official Neel Kashkari past firebrand Assemblyman Tim Donnelly. Yet as Nov. 4 nears, the state GOP is adrift, politically and ideologically, more broken than ever. 

Kashkari turned in a solid debate performance last month but has since wasted that momentum. His latest gambit, an ad portraying a drowning child, bespeaks a an inability to look past Election Day to the party’s future (or his own). Meanwhile, other statewide Republican candidates who led early in the polls are fading rapidly as Election Day approaches, and as voter identification with the party continues to drop dramatically.

Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin, who seemed to have a decent chance at the office of Controller, has found herself at odds with voters over high-speed rail (she supports it, they don’t) and with her party over Kashkari, who made himself unwelcome by highlighting the economic woes of her town. 

Pete Peterson, running for Secretary of State, is perhaps the most likable (and highly qualified) of the party’s new figures, but has struggled to raise money. 

In addition, the GOP has neglected statewide races to focus on preventing Democrats from regaining the supermajority in the State Senate that they enjoyed until a string of recent corruption scandals put them back below the two-thirds mark. 

 Yet while that supermajority is critical to holding Brown and the Democrats in check, it is not something most California voters know or care about. The GOP is simply not speaking to them.

Worse, too many in the Republican Party establishment–particularly voices on high in Washington–believe the road back to political relevance lies through liberal policies. They urge California conservatives to relax their opposition to illegal immigration, to soften their approach to affirmative action, to reject social conservatism. 

All of that is a way of saying that Republican voters are the problem, because those are issues they care about.

Many efforts have been invested over the years in more serious attempts to devise alternative policies for the GOP. These include: school choice; fossil fuels; labor reform; new dams; and a flat tax.

The challenge, however, is unifying the party around a common agenda–and weaning elected Republicans from the temptations big-spending Democrats offer. 

For example, while Kashkari opposes Brown’s high-speed rail plan, Swearingen backs the “crazy train” as a boost to Fresno.

California Republicans failed to resolve such conflicts in 2014. They focused on isolated legislative races and ignored the state level. The donors that unified against Donnelly showed little interest in rallying around a rising star like Peterson. Instead, they are often reduced to persuading Republicans to vote for the least offensive Democrats. 

The question now is not just whether the California GOP can rebuild, but whether it can survive.

Source: Breitbart Feed

Missing Austrian Teen Surfaces on Internet Video as Islamic State Jihadi

A 16-year-old student whom Interpol reported missing has surfaced in an Internet video calling upon fellow Muslims to join the Islamic State terror group. The Viennese teenager said that killing “infidels” was now his main goal.

Austria’s The Local reported that the light-haired teenager was filmed in what some believe is a Syrian slaughterhouse, as dead sheep could be seen in the background of the video.

The once-missing teen, Oliver N, has been missing since August 23rd. Reports emerged in late September that he had been sending “threatening” text messages to fellow classmates. Oliver was reportedly enrolled at a vocational school for industry, economy, and transport.

School officials said that once Oliver converted to Islam, he immediately began to behave and act vastly different. Previously described as a “very nice student,” his behavior radically changed.

According to The Local, the school’s director, Erich Macho, told Austrian outlet ORF:

[Oliver] was a very nice student, but towards the end of the last school year he converted to Islam and at this point his behaviour changed. He was very open about his conversion – and it was also obvious by his behaviour and things that he said. In hindsight it’s easy to say that we should have done something – he was also distributing Islamic material to students and teachers.

Erich’s friend Claudia reportedly told Der Standard, “It was as if someone had turned a switch in him,” adding that he had posted on Facebook a picture of a heavily-covered woman and called her his wife. “He was a very nice person who hadn’t had an easy life,” she stated.

Austria’s Interior Ministry estimates that about 160 of its nationals have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with Islamic State militants.

Source: Breitbart Feed

Texas Ebola Task Force Recommending Regional Treatment Centers

AUSTIN, Texas — In a press conference at the Capitol Friday, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced several new changes to the state’s policies in response to the Ebola crisis. As Breitbart Texas reported earlier, Perry reversed his previous position regarding travel restrictions from the Ebola-stricken West African countries. Noting that “air travel is how this disease crosses borders, and it is certainly how it got to Texas,” Perry said that it is now the “the right policy” to ban air travel from these countries.

The Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, which was formed by Perry earlier this month to respond to Ebola-related issues, announced their initial recommendations as well.

Perry noted that this was the first time that Ebola had been on American soil, and while mistakes were “understandable,” it was vital for public safety to address these mistakes and do everything they could to minimize the risks. Perry emphasized that Texans should remember that the odds of contracting Ebola were “exceptionally remote,” and that many of the steps the state was taking were “out of an abundance of caution.”

Dr. Brett Giroir, the executive Vice President and CEO of the Texas A&M Health Center and head of the Task Force, announced their recommendation to designate select hospitals around the state as “Regional Centers,”  to be prepared to be Texas’ Ebola treatment centers and receive advanced training and specialized equipment. These centers would also have advanced training, staff, and equipment for the crucial functions of decontamination and waste management. The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston was among the hospitals that the Task Force is recommending be designated as an Ebola treatment center, according to Giroir. The Task Force will be requesting money from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to fund these centers.

Giroir also recommended that the Texas Legislature empower the Texas Department of State Health Services (DHS) to legally restrict the travel of anyone exposed to Ebola, which is within the power of the legislature to do and does not require action by the federal government. Another task force recommendation was adding more testing labs around the state to speed up diagnoses. 

Former state senator and DHS Commissioner Dr. Kyle Janek also addressed the press conference. Janek acknowledged the work that DHS had been doing since the Ebola crisis began, including the vital work of “contact tracing,” or tracking every person who may have had any contact with a person who could have exposed them to Ebola. Epidemiologists working with DHS had been “on the ground in Dallas” after the first case was diagnosed and were trained to cast a very wide net in their searches. Janek called this contract tracing work one of the most critical ways to stop the spread of the deadly virus. Contact tracing and isolating anyone who has had a risk of exposure has “worked in Nigeria and will work here,” said Janek. As reported by Breitbart Texas, Nigeria successfully isolated the several dozen Ebola patients in their country, and have had no new cases since August.

In response to a reporter’s question, Perry elaborated on his position now supporting travel restrictions, saying that he supported both banning travel from Ebola-afflicted countries and putting anyone exposed to the virus on a “no-fly” list until their period of incubation had passed with a clear health check. It “defies common sense,” said Perry, that Vinson was allowed to fly after reporting a fever

When asked if the state would declare a state of emergency, Perry said that the Task Force and other state officials were not at that point yet. “Our focus is on immediate care,” he said, but acknowledged that that option was on the table for future consideration. Perry closed the conference by noting the critical importance of treating all affected patients and keeping the people of Texas safe, without regard to costs yet. “This is not that time” to worry about the budget, said Perry.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter at @rumpfshaker.

Source: Breitbart Feed

Flogged Marvin Lewis Right About ‘Lingering’ Concussions and the Media

“Ignorant,” “moron,” and “idiot” read as a few of the printable words applied to Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis in the wake of his “lingering” concussions comment. But newly-published scientific researched actually supports the coach rather than his critics.  

“I coached defense and linebackers for a long time and concussions didn’t linger,” Lewis explained on Wednesday in response to a question about controversial Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. “Now we’ve found that because of the media and things they seem to linger longer. There’s a lot of attention paid to it. I don’t know why they linger longer, but I don’t remember them lingering like they do now.”

“Contextual factors can influence a patient’s expectations for recovery following a concussion, including explicit or implicit messages from the media, healthcare providers and systems of care, and the forensic arena,” reads new research published in Psychological Injury and Law by Rodney D. Vandenploeg, Heather D. Belanger, and Paul M. Kaufmann. “This article discusses these factors as nocebo effects, that is, various inherently ‘inert’ factors may create negative expectancies for recovery and therefore impede a given patient’s progress and recovery.” The authors focus on media sensationalism, alongside litigation, as a factor contributing to patients attributing imagined or unrelated symptoms to earlier concussions.

Whether the NFL’s second-longest-tenured coach spoke from experience or from reading the academic literature isn’t certain. Clearly, his detractors haven’t read the research.

It’s not just that the academic article buttresses Lewis’s much-maligned observation that concussions “linger longer.” The scientists, like Lewis, also blame the media for contributing to the “nocebo” effect that convinces concussion victims that symptoms persist long after the medical literature suggests that they would. “The importance of the media message effects described above cannot be minimized,” the trio write. “If providers convey similar messages of negative expectation, symptoms may increase and cognitive performance decrease as a result.”

NFL Players Association President Eric Winston tweeted out and meted out, however obliquely, particularly caustic assessments of the veteran coach. 

But the science goes further than Lewis ever did in casting doubt on “lingering” concussions. “For symptomatic patients presenting in a chronic timeframe (several months to years following a concussion),” Vandenploeg, Belanger, and Kaufmann conclude, “the research literature suggests that there is no reason for healthcare providers to attribute the reported symptoms to the remote concussion, even if patients attribute their symptoms to that TBI [traumatic brain injury].”

Source: Breitbart Feed

National Journal: Is 21 Days Long Enough for Ebola Quarantine?

From Brian Resnick writing at the National Journal:

Two to 21 days. If a person is exposed to the Ebola virus, that’s the timeframe in which the symptoms of the disease can manifest. The disease kills about half of those it infects.

That’s the reality for the friends of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first victim of Ebola to die in the United States, who made contact with him before his hospital admission. According to NPR, the family that made contact with Duncan “has been ordered not to leave their home and is banned from hosting any visitors until the 21-day incubation period for Ebola has passed.” So does that mean that on the 22nd day, they are in the clear, completely safe from contracting Ebola?

No. Sadly, it’s isn’t so simple.

“There is no quarantine time that will provide absolute assurance of no residual risk from contagion,” Charles N. Haas, a microbiology threat researcher at Drexel University, writes in arecently published paper in the Journal PLOS Current Outbreaks.

Read the rest of the story at the National Journal.

Source: Breitbart Feed