Blogs

Final Housekeeping Update

| Fri Oct. 24, 2014 11:09 AM EDT

According to my surgeon, yesterday's kyphoplasty went swimmingly well. I needed to be prepared for normal post-op recovery pain, but once I was through that my back would be in good shape.

Unfortunately, "normal post-op recovery pain" turned out to be hours of excruciating, mind-numbing agony. At one point I was on four separate pain killers and they still weren't doing the job. I finally got a second dose of the most powerful one, and that made things barely tolerable—though at the medium-term expense of my stomach, I suspect.

But that was yesterday. Today I feel OK, and this morning I got out of bed and hobbled around the room without any significant pain So, success!

This is the last post that can fairly be called "housekeeping," but not the end of the story. I'll have more news later.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for October 24, 2014

Fri Oct. 24, 2014 10:38 AM EDT

US Navy Sailors aboard a guided missile destroyer plot on a chart during a damage control drill. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Declan Barnes)

Anti-Abortion Colorado Republican Candidate Tries to Pass Himself Off As Pro-Choice

| Fri Oct. 24, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez.

Bob Beauprez, the Republican candidate for governor of Colorado, just joined a growing club of GOP politicians—including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Senate hopeful Scott Brown of New Hampshire—who have grossly misrepresented their stance on women's reproductive rights.

In an interview aired Wednesday on Colorado Public Radio, Beauprez, a former congressman, struck a decidedly pro-choice note when asked about abortion and birth control. He said he would not stand in the way of women having access to abortions, nor would he interfere with women choosing what kind of birth control to use. "I respect people's opinion, women's right to that choice," he said. He later added, "I don't want to run somebody else's family and make decisions for their family, their life; I want them to have the opportunity and the freedom to do that themselves."

Here's the full exchange (listen to the audio above):

CPR: On women's reproductive health, as governor would you be committed to your current stated position that while you're personally against abortions, you won't stand in the way of people having access to them or letting women choose their preferred method of birth control?

Bob Beauprez: That's correct. I respect people's opinion, women's right to that choice. I know what the law is. And my job is to enforce the law. The question of birth control has come up and let me be real clear…I think women ought to have the choice of whether to use birth control or not. I think women ought to have the choice of what type of birth control to use. I just don't think taxpayers need to be paying for it.

I respect people's right to choose. I live my life the way I personally choose, but I'm not going to interfere with somebody else's. The job of a governor is less to govern the people, and more to govern the government. I don't want to make somebody else's decision, but I want them to have every opportunity to make their own. I don't want to run somebody else's family and make decisions for their family, their life; I want them to have the opportunity and the freedom to do that themselves. That's the kind of governor I'll be.

Right to that choicehave the choiceright to choosethe way I choose: Beauprez almost sounds like a Planned Parenthood activist. But his legislative record and past statements couldn't be more at odds with his seemingly pro-choice comments.

In 2005, then-Rep. Beauprez cosponsored the Right to Life Act, a measure that guaranteed "equal protection for the right to life of each born and pre-born human person." The bill defined life beginning with "the moment of fertilization," and could severely restrict abortions. In Colorado Right-to-Life's 2006 voter guide, he said he supported a constitutional amendment to "restore full protection to pre-born human beings." That same year, he asserted—incorrectly—that the abortion rate for black women was an "appalling" 70 percent. (The actual rate at the time, according to the Guttmacher Institute, was 49 per 1,000—or 4.9 percent.) And in 2013, in a column on TownHall.com, he urged all Americans to reconcile the "tragedies" of abortions just as they reconciled the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut.

As a gubernatorial candidate, Beauprez has not wavered from his decidedly anti-abortion position. He continues to say that he opposes all forms of abortion, even in cases of rape and incest unless the mother's life is at risk. He bragged to an interviewer in March about his "100 percent pro-life voting record." He also claims that an IUD is an abortifacient, not contraception. Beauprez has not said how he'd act on these beliefs, though he says he would eliminate all state funding for Planned Parenthood.

But anyone listening to his recent Colorado Public Radio interview might think that Beauprez was a supporter of a woman's right to choose, just as Scott Walker and Scott Brown sought to imply in their own sneaky ads on the issue. Pro-choice women are a key voting bloc that Beauprez needs to win—and he appears willing to distort his record to get their votes.

Man Tells Joke

| Thu Oct. 23, 2014 10:34 PM EDT

Ebola in NYC! Chaos! Doom! Hysteria! Hashtags!

Late Thursday, New York City officials confirmed that a doctor recently returned to the city from treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. The internet, a place where serious things are not taken seriously and unserious things are taken very seriously, was a bit confused about how to react. On the one hand, panic! On the other hand, #ironic #detachment!

Into this whirlwind jumped Nick Muzin, Sen. Ted Cruz's deputy chief of staff:

The internet was unsure if this not very funny joke was a joke or not and ran with it as though it were serious because the truth is conservatives do seem to blame quite a lot on Obamacare, but then the tweet was deleted and followed up with:

I would personally like the record to reflect that though I wasn't sure if it was a joke and didn't find it particularly funny, I'd die for Nick Muzin's right to tweet his joke.

Have a great night.

 

New York City Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola

| Thu Oct. 23, 2014 4:38 PM EDT

The New York Times reports Craig Spencer, a Doctors Without Borders physician who had recently been to West Africa to help treat Ebola patients, has tested positive for the disease. Spencer is the first person in New York to be diagnosed.

As Spencer's identity had been confirmed late Thursday afternoon, it became known he had been bowling in Brooklyn on Wednesday, traveling via an Uber ride to and from Manhattan.

"Ebola is very difficult to contract, being on the same subway car or living near someone with Ebola does not put someone at risk," de Blasio told reporters at a news conference Thursday evening.

Since coming back to the United States on October 14th, the city's health commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett, confirmed Spencer used the subway's A, 1, and L lines and bowled at The Gutter in Williamsburg. Bassett said the city has been preparing for the possibility of an outbreak for the past few weeks, with Cuomo emphasizing healthcare workers have been well-trained for such an event.

Earlier Thursday, Spencer was taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan after suffering from Ebola-like symptoms, including a 100.3 fever and nausea. The health department's initial report Spencer had a 103 degree fever was corrected on Friday.

The New York City Health Department released a statement indicating Spencer had returned to the United States within the past 21 days.

The patient was transported by a specially trained HAZ TAC unit wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  After consulting with the hospital and the CDC, DOHMH has decided to conduct a test for the Ebola virus because of this patient’s recent travel history, pattern of symptoms, and past work. DOHMH and HHC are also evaluating the patient for other causes of illness, as these symptoms can also be consistent with salmonella, malaria, or the stomach flu.

The New York Post first identified Spencer, who returned from Guinea on October 14 and reported his fever this morning.

CNN producer Vaughn Sterling tweeted the following:

Reminder, refrain from panicking. This post has been updated throughout.

Students at a Nebraska High School Can Now Pose With Guns in Their Senior Portraits

| Thu Oct. 23, 2014 2:14 PM EDT

Seniors at Broken Bow High School in Nebraska have been granted their God-given right to pose with guns for their upcoming senior portraits, just as long as the photos are taken off campus and done "tastefully."

“The board, I believe, felt they wanted to give students who are involved in those kinds of things the opportunity to take a senior picture with their hobby, with their sport, just like anybody with any other hobby or sport,” Superintendent Mark Sievering explained to local paper, the Omaha World-Herald.

One would think such a bizarre proposal would prompt some level of debate, a modicum of sane opposition! After all, we're talking about mere teenagers eerily striking poses with weapons in their adolescent hands. Alas, the idea was met with a unanimous yes by all members of the Broken Bow school board.

“For me as a sportsman, I think the policy’s important because it allows those kids who are doing those things a chance to demonstrate what they’re doing and to celebrate that. I think that’s important and fair in our country," board member Matthew Haumont said.

As for the "tasteful" requirement, that means classy poses only folks: no photos with weapons pointed at the camera, no brandishing of weapons, and no "scantily clad girls."

 

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Elizabeth Warren's Latest Comment About Running For President Is the Most Cryptic Yet

| Thu Oct. 23, 2014 1:59 PM EDT
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

With 106 weeks until the next presidential election, speculating about a potential Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) candidacy is like going on a long car ride with a six-year-old. "Are you running?" No. "How about now?" No. "Now?" No. "Now?" No. "What about now?" No. "Are you running?" No. "Are you running?" [exasperated sigh] "Aha!"

But Warren does continue to do the things people who are considering a run for president tend to do—flying to Iowa to rally the troops on behalf of Rep. Bruce Braley, for instance, and going on tour to promote a campaign-style book. Her latest venture, a sit-down interview in the next issue of People magazine, isn't going to do much to quiet the speculation, even as she once more downplayed the prospect of a run:

[S]upporters are already lining up to back an "Elizabeth Warren for President" campaign in 2016. But is the freshman senator from Massachusetts herself on board with a run for the White House? Warren wrinkles her nose.

"I don't think so," she tells PEOPLE in an interview conducted at Warren's Cambridge, Massachusetts, home for this week's issue. "If there's any lesson I've learned in the last five years, it's don't be so sure about what lies ahead. There are amazing doors that could open."

She just doesn't see the door of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue being one of them. Not yet, anyway. "Right now," Warren says, "I'm focused on figuring out what else I can do from this spot" in the U.S. Senate.

"Amazing doors"; "I don't think"; "right now"—what does it all mean? Warren's not really saying anything we haven't heard from her before. But after then-Sen. Barack Obama's furious denials about running for president eight years ago, no one's ready to take "no" for an answer. At least not yet, anyway.

Watching This Porcupine Taste a Pumpkin Is Why the World Is Going to Be Okay Today

| Thu Oct. 23, 2014 12:06 PM EDT

Imagine if we were all as happy as this adorable porcupine, enjoying the seasonal harvest with this much gusto. (You really need to wait until he takes his first bite—the sounds he makes are amazing). This video was posted to YouTube by Zooiversity, a traveling animal education company in Texas, last year, and appears to be enjoying an encore seasonal run this week, as the nation heads into full-on pumpkin madness. (H/t to the website Unwindly, where I first saw it).

Teddy Bear, an 11-year-old male North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), is something of a YouTube star at this point, it seems. According to Zooiversity's website, he's raked in 11.5 million views from 16 viral videos and enjoys a following from over 19,000 Facebook fans. 

He's even...a movie star. Yes. A movie star. According to Zooiversity, Teddy gave voice to Sebastian the hedgehog in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He's come a long way since his days as an abandoned newborn found by a rancher in West Texas.

Yet More Housekeeping

| Thu Oct. 23, 2014 12:00 PM EDT

How much detail do you want about my medical woes? Well, I'm bored, so you're going to get more.

By the time you read this, I should be sedated and ready for a something-plasty, a procedure that injects bone cement into my fractured L3 lumbar vertebra. In other words, I will become a low-grade Wolverine in one teeny-tiny part of my body. According to the doctors, the cement dries instantly and should relieve my back pain almost completely. It sounds too good to be true, and of course it's always possible that I have some other source of back pain in addition to the compression fracture. But this should help a lot.

There is more to this story, and hopefully tomorrow will wrap everything up as all the rest of the test results come back. I'll keep you posted.

On a related subject, I have to say that the Irvine Kaiser hospital is excellent. I have a very nice little single room with good visiting accommodations. It features all the usual annoyances of a hospital, some of which have made me grumpy, but everyone has been very nice and professional. They've made my stay about as nice as it could be under the circumstances.

Canada's Coverage of the Ottawa Shootings Put American Cable News to Shame

| Wed Oct. 22, 2014 5:28 PM EDT
Police set up a perimeter near Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Canada.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation today gave a master class in calm, credible breaking-news reporting.

Anchored by the unflappable Peter Mansbridge, news of the shootings in Ottawa unfolded live on the CBC much like they do here in the United States: lots of sketchy details, conflicting reports, unreliable witnesses, and a thick fog of confusion. All of that was familiar. What was less familiar was how Mansbridge and his team managed that confusion, conveying a concise and fact-based version of fast-moving events to viewers across Canada and the world.

This live bit of level-headed reporting by Mansbridge, from around 11:10 a.m. Wednesday, should be given to journalism students around the country. It basically contains everything you need to know about why CBC did its audience proud:

MANSBRIDGE: And so, the situation is, as we say, tense and unclear. And it's on days like this—we keep reminding you of this and it's important—it's on days like this, where a story takes a number of different pathways, a number of changes occur, and often rumors start in a situation like this. We try to keep them out of our coverage, but when they come, sometimes from official sources, like members of Parliament, you tend to give them some credence. But you carefully weigh it with what we're also witnessing. It's clear that the situation is not over. It is clear the police are in an intense standby situation and continue to be on the lookout, and until somebody blows the all-clear on this we will continue to stay on top of it and watch as the events unfold.

Watch below, courtesy of the CBC:

The broadcast was deliberative and deferential to the facts even when they were sparse. Exacting and painstaking, but never slow or boring, Mansbridge weighed the credibility of every detail, constantly framing and reframing what we knew and, most crucially, how we knew it. He literally spoke the news as it happened, using his experience not to opine nor fill the gaps in his knowledge, but to provide the necessary support for his team's reporting.

Getting things wrong during fast-moving live coverage is, of course, common. Coverage of the Washington Navy Yard shooting last year got the details wrong early and often: It misstated the perpetrator's name, age, and how many guns he had. Following the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, there was false coverage about the identity of the bombers, and anonymous sources leading journalists to nonexistent bombs and arrests. On the Media's handy "breaking news consumer's handbook" is a great roundup of the reporting errors that get repeated every time there is a mass shooting.

No newscast, especially live news, is immune to mistakes, and during the initial haze of leads and counterleads, it's easy to point fingers. But for the six-some hours of CBC broadcasting I watched off-and-on (mostly on) today, I never once felt lost in the wall-to-wall speculation that has characterized so many recent breaking-news broadcasts in the United States.

It seems like others on Twitter agree that CBC did pretty damn well today: